One thing I worried about before starting university was assignments and how to even write them! I wasn’t academic at all and this was causing me a lot of anxiety for starting off. Firstly, don’t panic! It’s not as bad as it all seems honestly. I didn’t have a clue to start with, my assignment was as basic as it could get, and I still passed.
I didn’t use fancy wording, I didn’t go into huge amounts of detail and I got still 55%! To be honest, even though this was a pass, it was a low grade and I was gutted. I knew I wouldn’t do well but when it hits you like that it makes you realise just how much you want to improve. I read all of the feedback, visited my personal development department and received all the help I could get for writing my second assignment. Never be ashamed to ask for help, trust me, it helps!
I then went on to get 75% for my second and third assignment! I was so happy! All I did was a few small changes that I was advised and managed to get such a great grade! I want to share with you what I did to help me achieve higher. I am going to just say this; it all depends on where you are in the world and what university you are studying at. Please check your own university guidelines, assignment brief and marking criteria and go against that over anyone else’s advice on this. Here are my personal tips for assignment writing:
- Firstly, ask for help if you’re struggling with anything.
- Always follow your assignment brief and marking criteria because you don’t know who will be marking your assignment and this is what they will be using to give your grade.
- Use linking words to make your assignment flow nicely. I found a fantastic website called: Manchester Phrase Bank which saved me here! You can always google ‘linking words for assignments’ and they will come up.
- Write about what you love! If you have a choice on subjects to choose from, write the one that appeals to you the most. If you write about what you love, this assignment will become so easy to you and really enjoyable to write.
- Use evidence-based practice (EVB), research papers and journal articles rather than books (no harm in adding books as well but have the majority as EBP). Rationale for this: As nurses we have to practice safely using the best and most up to date practice available.
- I personally put in a reference every 50 – 55 words. This shows you have a wider reading around the topic and will bag yourself some extra marks.
- Break your assignment down into small manageable pieces. This will make this so much easier to write. I use subheadings to help me separate what I’m writing and then remove them and add linking words to help it flow before submitting. Chip away at it slowly and it will all come together nicely.
- Less is more! This sounds bizarre but let me explain. If you have numerous things to discuss in your assignment, narrow it down to one or two even three and then go in depth with them. For example, if you’re writing about consent, there are so many types of consent. Just pick on or two types and go in depth with them. Look at what you need to write and don’t over complicate it.
- Reference as you go. I personally don’t leave referencing to the last minute. I write my piece and then go and find the reference to back up what I am saying. I will input the citation into the main body and reference list there and then. This saves so much time at the end of the assignment.
- Be critical in your assignment – That’s where the good marks are at. Search how to critically analyse and start practicing. The way I was taught to do this was; ‘think of it as buying a mobile phone. You are weighing up the pros and cons of each model and then concluding’ So for example, phone A has a better camera than phone B, however phone B has a lot more memory than phone A. But overall, I want phone A reason being is because I want my phone, so I can take amazing photos. The more you can critically analyse the better. This is level 5 marking for second year.
That’s all from me! I hope these tips help and reassure you a little bit about writing an assignment. Please let us know how you get on and happy writing!
Written by Claire Carmichael (@C_Carmichael83)