Approaching The Question

When approaching assignments, allow yourself adequate planning and preparation time. A good approach is to analyse the question topic, brainstorm and briefly note what you know about the topic based on information presented in your classes and readings, and then prepare a plan for researching the topic and writing the assignment.

When you read a topic or question, look for the following expressions:

  • Topic words: What are the main areas/themes you will need to consider?
  • Instruction words: What do you have to do? For example look for words like discuss, compare, show how, analyse, critically assess and so on (see 'Interpreting assignment task words' download below).
  • Limiting words: Look for time, place or other limiters in the assignment question, for example, ‘in the 1990s’, ‘policing in the CBD’, ‘after the 1967 referendum’, 'two key counselling microskills'.

Next, brainstorm by writing points quickly on a sheet of paper. When you run out of points to note, look at what you have, consider the question, group similar points, cross out irrelevant ones, and see what directions are being suggested.

Write a preliminary plan. This plan should change and grow as you research the topic more. Make sure your answer addresses all parts of the question.