Steps for Written Assignments

Find information on:

  • Steps within written assignments: researching, planning. drafting and editing.
  • Adapted from The Study Skills Handbook (Cottrell, 2013, p. 282).

Study skills handbook

Steps within written assignments

  1. Clarify the task
  • Analyse the question. What is your lecturer asking you to do? Are you being asked to analyse / describe / compare? See Kent University’s (2008) instruction verbs in essays for more examples and definitions.
  • Keep re-visiting the question to make sure that you stay on track.
  1. Collect and record information
  • Be selective. Is the resource relevant and reliable? (See Effective Reading)
  • Remember to take notes and record the Harvard reference.
  • See our Note Taking Guide for more guidance.
  1. Organise and plan
  • Look for patterns in your research. Which sources connect?
  • Consider using a mind map in the early stages to see links more clearly.
  • Make sure you plan your time; here is a blank 10 week timetable that you could use to plot out your study time.
  1. Write an outline plan and first draft
  • Make sure your writing follows a logical order, uses evidence from your wider reading and finishes with a strong conclusion.
  • Have a look at our Planning Study Guide and template on ‘Planning an essay’.
  • Look at the word count – how many words can you afford to use for each section of your assignment?
  1. Work on your first draft
  • Re-work your plan into paragraphs.
  • Check you have included evidence and references.
  • Make sure your argument is clear. Sometimes it helps to take a break and then re-read how far you have got before continuing.
  1. Final draft
  • Check the flow of your writing, which includes how well each paragraph follows on from one another.
  • Perhaps read it aloud to check for clarity and spot any typos.
  • Be careful to follow common conventions shown in our Academic Writing Guide.
  • Keep tweaking until you are happy with your work.

Useful video guides


E-book resources 

Try these e-books available from ProQuest:


Cottrell, S. (2013) The study skills handbook. 4th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.