Do you have an essay due soon?


Have you started writing your essay yet? You know the one you got from your lecturer aaaaaages ago that’s due really soon (please don’t let it be tomorrow).

Maybe you are procrastinating because you don’t know where to start? There is a simple solution. Check out the Writing Self-Help Resources page on the Library website. It’s chock full of guides to help you get started, develop your writing and acknowledge sources.

One of the guides on the Writing Self-Help Resources page suggests you should spend time unpacking the assignment. Now unpacking an assignment is as tedious as unpacking your suitcase after a two-week vacay in Hawaii (or Caloundra; whatever your budget allows). But it simply must be done.

It’s basically just taking the time to clarify what is expected of you in an assessment item before you start researching and writing.

To understand the main focus of the assignment, read the course outline and ask yourself these questions:

  • Why has this topic been set?
  • What course aims or objectives is this topic testing?
  • What lectures, workshops or weekly readings relate to this topic?
  • Which parts are allocated the most marks?
  • What additional clues do the marking criteria provide about the assignment task?

Once you’ve figured out the answers to these hard-hitting questions, you’ll be well on your way to being unpacked (just the dirty socks and undies to go!).

Next, you need to understand what you are being asked to do; in other words, you need to decipher the assignment question.

Sometimes this can be quite tricky as we don’t really understand the difference between such words as ‘examine’, ‘analyse’, or ‘compare’. These are directive words and they give directions to the approach you should take and the kind of response required in the assignment.

Well, help is at hand in the form of a handy guide, aptly titled Directive words. It contains a number of the most commonly used directive words and their meanings.

To finish unpacking by yourself, check out the Writing Self-Help Resources page on the Library website.

Do you need help with unpacking the assignment or any other part of the academic writing process? Attend an Academic Skills workshop offered throughout the semester. Or book a 20-minute consultation with a Learning Adviser.