Study Skills: Assignment Tips for College and University
adapted from Steve Douglass
Ah, assignments & a dreaded part of a course but usually a fair chunk of your grade. Consider these tips in getting your papers and projects done.
Hand it in!
Always turn your homework in, even if it may be late.Of course, on time is the better choice unless you can somehow guarantee no loss of marks for handing it in late.
Partial credit beats no credit. And if you’re a perfectionist, try to avoid turning in your homework late because of your perfectionism.
Plan and schedule your papers
We probably all know that whipping out papers the night before they’re due usually doesn’t produce the A papers we want. If you wait too long, you may have scheduling conflicts.
In constructing a timeline, include enough time for each phase of writing a paper:
- developing the concept,
- conducting research,
- defining your thesis,
- drafting the outline,
- writing the first draft,
- major editing and revising,
- polising the final draft.
In constructing your timeline, work backwards from the deadline. This will help you determine the latest date you can start on (the concept of) a paper and still have a good finished product.
Be organized in your papers
Be clear and well organized so the prof or Teaching Assistant can follow your train of thought.
- Before you dive in plan it first! What’s your objective? (this should be your thesis)
- Use tools like subheadings to help organize your arguments.
- Organize your outline and put your ideas in a logical sequence. Figure out which illustrations to use (quotes, facts, anecdotes, jokes).
- Close on your strongest argument, using your most powerful illustration, or a quote that summarizes your thesis — it’s your last chance to make a positive impression!
Add more to your paper
- Go deeper and contextualize the importance of the topic you’re discussing.
- Show the marker what and how much more you’ve learned from doing this paper, be enthusiastic.
- Be creative! Stand out from the stack of other papers and projects. Add a fresh approach or twist. To get your creative juices going:
- Read regularly to stimulate your thinking;
- Get outside input to get your mind to think in new ways and break out of your set pattern;
- Push your mental boundaries. Play a “what if?” or “why not?” game.
- Brainstorm with others and bounce ideas off one another. Or let it sit for awhile. Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep.
- As soon as you’ve got one, write your idea down!
Manage your time
Note deadlines and commitments right away on a calendar. Keep a calendar of all your deadlines all in one place so you can keep the big picture in mind.
At the beginning of the semester, plan specific study times for each subject and stick to studying those subjects at those times every week.
Always start with your top priority first (and the priorities will change as the semester wears on, so be flexible!).
Justine Hwang is a writer who enjoys food, friends and life. Her friends tell her she thinks in multiple choice and bullet point lists. Adapted from Steve Douglass’ How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun. Copyright © 2002 iamnext.com. May not be used without permission.