Student Resources

CUC Far West provides a range of support and training to assist students in developing essential skills in academic literacy including spelling, grammar, punctuation, referencing and research methods





Assignment Skills

  1. Analysing the question
  2. Basic planning
  3. Initial research
  4. Organising ideas/research
  5. First draft
    a. TEEL paragraph structure
    b. Introduction
    c. Conclusion
  6. What is missing?
  7. Proofreading

Step 1

Analysing the question

Many students lose marks for not fully answering their assignment question. Taking a moment to analyse your question at the start of each assignment will save you time and marks.

Analysing the question – keywords

Start By identifying the four types of keywords:

Tell you what to do in order to answer the assignment question and are normally verbs. Use a glossary of common task words to help you understand what your task word(s) require.

Identify the topic you need to apply your task word(s) to. Often content words come from the topics you have studied in your unit.

Narrow a broad topic and can refer to a period of time, place or population.

These words provide parameters for your response; word limits, due dates etc.



Common Task Words

Analyse – Identify the essential elements and show their relationship. Mention any strengths, weaknesses or disadvantages.
Describe – Recount, characterise, outline and relate in sequence.
Discuss – Examine, analyse, and give reasons for and against a claim or statement.
Evaluate – Appraise in relation to some standard, referring to advantages, limitations, costs and benefits.
Explain – Clarify, interpret and elaborate. Give reasons for differences of opinion or results
Justify – Prove or give reasons for conclusions or decisions.
Summarise – Reduce a large body of information to brief statements of main points.

At times your task words may come in the form of a question:

What is/was…? What impact/effect…? In what ways…? How does/did…? How far…?
These assignment questions are generally asking you to describe or explain.

Why…? How far…? To what extent…? How effectively…? Do you agree? Is this a fair comment? How important…? What do you think?
These assignment questions are generally analytical, asking you to argue or critique.

The broad or main topic you need to research and write about.
Identifying this helps you begin to narrow your research (and stay on topic)
The broad topic may be a topic in your unit materials.

Make a broad topic workable.
Directs you towards aspects of the main topic that you should focus on.
Can be:
a period of time (…in the 21st century);
a place (…the Great Barrier Reef);or a population (…Syrian refugees).

The parameters you must keep to.

  • They indicate the depth of your response (number of words) and research (number of sources).
  • They provide you with a timeframe to start your planning (due date) and indicate expected knowledge (topics covered to date).
Analysing the question – example

Once you have highlighted all terms jot down the underlying question(s).

Example 1

Step 2

Create a basic plan
  • Identify the type of assignment (case study, report, essay, reflective writing) and note the relevant structure.
  • Define keywords and look up unfamiliar terms.
  • Write down what you know about the topic and what questions you need to be answered. Use these questions to create a basic plan of research.

Look at your rubric for how marks are allocated. Find out where to spend your time.

What do I know?

Step 3

Initial Research
  • Start broad to get a good grasp of your topic
  • Begin with your course materials.
  • Work on answering the questions you identified in Step 2 – add to your table/map.
  • Use the bibliographies from your sources to find more sources.

Keep track of the reference details, especially page numbers.

Step 4

Organise your ideas/research

Develop on your preliminary thesis. What will you argue, prove, discuss?

Organise your ideas. What are the main 3-4 points or issues you have identified that will prove your thesis?
-Develop a new chart or table with a separate box for each point or issue. Cut and paste evidence, ideas and source details into the relevant boxes.

Step 5

First Draft – Body

From your chart/table in Step 4 develop body paragraphs using the TEEL paragraph structure:
Topic sentence – the point you will make
Explanation – your point in more detail
Evidence – research that supports your point
**Comment – strengths/limitations of your evidence, how it proves your point
Link – summary of main point made and how it supports your thesis

First Draft – Introduction

Develop your introduction from your body paragraphs; it should be a road map to your essay.
The Question – restate it in your own words
Context – background details on the issue you are addressing
Thesis – your position on the issue. Your answer to the problem.
Main Points – outline of how you will prove your thesis
You can adjust the order of information and place your thesis last. You don’t always need to restate the question.
Approximately 10% of your word count.

First Draft – Conclusion

Your conclusion should mirror your introduction and not add any new information.
Restate Thesis – remind your reader of your position
Main Points- summary of the key points you made in your body
– wider application of what you have discussed in your essay
Approximately 10% of your word count.

Step 6

Second Draft – filling the gaps

WHAT IS MISSING??? (make your own checklist)

Do I have a clear thesis that responds to the assignment question?
Do I make one clear point in each paragraph?
Have I started with my strongest point first?
Does each point I make help prove my thesis?
Have I supported each point with credible evidence?
Am I answering the assignment question? **Return to your rubric.

Step 7


Review your work keeping in mind the following areas:

  • Spelling and grammar
  • Academic language
  • Referencing

Spelling and Grammar

Ensure that your word program is in UK or Australian English, US English spelling is considered incorrect in Australian Universities.
Leave your work for a while then read through for clarity.
Reading aloud can help you pick up incomplete or run on sentences. Place a comma where you pause.
Make sure each sentence has a subject and a verb.
Try using an online grammar program like Grammarly.
Ask someone else to read through your work, ask them to be brutal!

Make time to see the CUC Far West Tutor

Academic Language

Remove any contractions (They’re, don’t wasn’t etc).
Unless you are writing a reflective piece don’t use personal pronouns (I, me, us, etc).
Look out for broad or ambiguous terms (The Government… The NSW State Government? The Commonwealth Government?).
Define all abbreviations/acronyms. (World Health Organisation [WHO]).
Use a variety of transitions to show the connection between sentences and paragraphs.
Don’t forget about formatting!


Have you used the appropriate style?
Have you included all in-text citations?
Are your quotes formatted correctly?
Have you included page numbers for quotes?
Is your reference list in alphabetical order?
Double check all citations against examples in your style guide.

Remember, up to 15% of your mark may be for referencing correctly. Take the time to get the easy marks.


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