Check these things before Submitting your next assignment

pencil sharpened on a book with the shavings still nearby

You have spent lots of time researching, working hard to produce a top quality assignment that will be appreciated by your tutor. You have timed it well; your favourite TV programme is about to start, you have some tasty food waiting for you. It’s now time to submit that assignment and wait for a response. Hold it right there! Before you send off your assignment, save it carefully, and put it out of your mind for a short while. You will be glad that you did. Here are several reasons why:

1. Lots of concentration can make you tired, which can lead to mistakes. There may not be factual mistakes but being tired could result in you using a phrase that would be better expressed in another way.

2. Do spell-check your work before submitting it. Not only via your spellchecking facility on your software, but also run through your work to ensure that there are no ambiguities. The words: there – their – they’re can all pass seamlessly through your spellchecker, but the incorrect use of the word can create vagueness and confusion. If the course you are doing is one that focuses on writing skills, these errors will not impress your tutor.

3. Read through the questions in the assignment again. Have you answered each question precisely, or have you become carried away with your research, writing all you know about a certain subject without considering carefully what was requested of you?

4. Have you researched and written up your bibliography in the correct way at the end of your work? This adds great value to your work when you return to it at a future date, as well as being good academic practice.

5. Are you confident that you have done a better job than you would have done in the past?

6. As you completed your assignment, were your main thoughts those of relief that you had finished the task – or certainty that you had done your best? If it is the former, it is a good idea to revisit each question, and consider whether there are some additional elements to be added.

7. Is your layout clear? Have you placed each main point made into a new paragraph, used sub-headings or bullet-pointed lists to clarify the information contained in your work? The use of a good layout will convince your tutor that you know what you are communicating and that you have a well-ordered mind directed at the subject.

Remember the famous quote, ‘Write drunk — edit sober.’ While we're sure it is not literally referring to being drunk while writing, the point being made is that when you are writing something important, it is useful to record your initial thoughts on paper or screen. Spelling, punctuation and grammar do not matter at this stage, as you are creating the facts, thoughts and ideas behind what you are writing. When you are satisfied, then go through your work carefully, adding the correct punctuation, spelling and grammar as required.

This contrasts with the practice of agonising over every sentence, wondering about the correct choices of words etc. and making very little progress as you sacrifice the expression of your ideas for using the right words as you go along.

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