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Reading Your Assignment
Watch this video from the University of North Carolina Writing Center to get an overview of what to look for when reading your assignment instructions.
- Read the whole assignment and take notes while reading to get you started thinking.
- Highlight or underline key words such as argue, criticize, define, describe, discuss, evaluate, explain, summarize.
- Ask yourself these questions as you are reading your assignment:
- Why did your instructor ask you to complete this assignment?
- Who is your audience?
- What evidence do you need to support your ideas?
- What writing style does your instructor want?
- What do you absolutely have to include in your assignment?
- Become familiar with common assignment goals. These can include:
- Summarizing: A condensed explanation of key features of a text. This may be required in assignments that use the words describe, explain, depict, or illustrate.
- Analyzing: A personal logical interpretation of the subject; provides new understanding about the subject. This may be required in assignments that ask you to elaborate, examine, discuss, explore, investigate, or determine.
- Arguing: Taking a stand on a topic and developing your claim to show why your position makes sense. This may be required in assignments that ask you to evaluate, critique, assess, propose, recommend, compare/contrast, or synthesize.
- Watch this video from the University of Guelph to learn more about action words and assignment goals.
- Identify the writing requirements and the evaluation criteria.
- Some instructors provide suggestions for what to include in each paragraph and how to structure the assignment.
- Look at the grading rubric or evaluation criteria to learn more details about what is expected.