Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Before You Turn in an Assignment

Think about how much time it takes to rewrite an entire paper or construct a last minute works cited when you find out you misunderstood the assignment or forgot a requirement.

Understanding your assignments saves time and stress, and leads to a much better grade. Here are some steps to take before turning in an assignment.

1. Read the Assignment Carefully
Often instructors explain an assignment in class and students forget to read the fine print on the actual assignment handout. If your instructor gives you an assignment in writing, read it carefully because it may include extra requirements like an outline or outside research. If he or she gives assignments verbally only, be sure to write down the details in your notes. Leaving out too many required elements leads to a much lower grade.

2. Circle Key Terms
After you read the assignment or write it down, circle key term that help summarize what the assignment is about. Assignment words like: write, explain, define, narrate, persuade, answer, explore, describe, compare, and show help you see what an assignment is asking for.

3. Discover its Purpose
Figure out why the instructor is assigning this project. What do they want you to learn from doing it? How to do research? How to write a particular type of essay like a comparison and contrast paper? Focusing on what the learning experience is about can help you zero in on the essentials and learn the most you can from an assignment. Then you won't end up accidentally writing a narration paper when you were asked to do a description.

4. Ask Questions
Instructors are usually happy to answer any questions about assignments, and your interest in getting it right shows you are trying to do a good job and sets the right tone when they grade the assignment later.

5. Check for Examples
Be sure to look at any examples the instructor has included. If he or she doesn't, ask if there is an example you can consult. Even if there isn't an entire example assignment, instructors will often give verbal examples that help you complete the assignment correctly.

6. Reread the Assignment
A few days before your assignment is due, take one last look at the assignment sheet or your notes about the assignment. You are probably doing lots of reading for other assignments, so you may forget minor requirements even if you read the assignment thoroughly the first time. Do this a few days before your assignment is due so you can add any last minute requirements without a time crunch.