Step-by-step guide to tackling assignments

The steps below will help you plan, research, write and review your assignment.

The most important thing is to start and start early. If you give yourself enough time to plan, research, write and revise your work you won't have to rush. Once you've started, you’ll also have something that you can improve on.

For help working out how much time you will need for each step try the Assignment Planner – RMIT University

Assignment guide diagram - shows steps for preparing, researching and writing

Step 1 – Understand the assignment task

Before you start your assignment make sure you analyse the assignment task or question and understand what you have been asked to do. This will help you focus your research.

Also check what type of assignment you are doing. Is it an essay or a report? This will help you focus your research and know how to structure your assignment.


Step 2 – Do your research

Next, research your topic and find relevant and reliable information. You will find some in your course materials and recommended readings, but you can also try:

  • the Open Polytechnic Library
  • online sources
  • talking to experts.

Evaluating information


Step 3 – Plan

Planning how you will answer your assignment task or question will help you focus and make writing your assignment easier. You will have a structure to follow, and can make sure you answer the assignment task correctly.


Step 4 – Write

It will then be time to start writing.

First draft

  • Write your first draft following your plan. Fill in the gaps, writing your main points for each section.
  • Write freely. Get as much down as you can without worrying about the wording being 100 per cent right.
  • You may find it easiest to start with the conclusion, so you know the direction your writing is heading.
  • Leave the introduction until last.

Don’t spend too much time trying to make this draft perfect as it will change!

Fine tune

  • Revise your draft, and check that it makes sense and includes everything it needs to.
  • Fine tune the wording, and make sure your writing flows well.
  • Keep different copies of your drafts as you may want to go back to them.
  • Compile your bibliography or reference list.


Step 5 – Review

Once you're happy, take a break. Get some distance from your work so you can check your assignment with a fresh eye. Then edit and proofread.

Look at the big picture

  • Have you answered the question you were set? Check your work against the marking schedule as well as the question.
  • Is the structure correct? Is the content logically arranged?
  • Have you included all relevant parts? For example, the title page, introduction, conclusion, reference list?
  • Does your assignment read well with each section flowing smoothly on to the next? A good way to check this is to read it aloud.
  • Have you used your own words and acknowledged all your sources?
  • Is your assignment well presented?

Check the details

  • Have you used academic English (if needed)?
  • Check the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Don’t just use a spell checker (it won’t pick everything up).
  • Check your referencing. Is your APA referencing correct?
  • Are your pages numbered?
  • Have you included your name, student ID, the assignment details and the date on each page?

Tip – If possible, ask a friend or family member to proofread your assignment, as it can be difficult to see mistakes in your own work.

Once you’re happy, submit your assignment.