By Beth Clark
It’s reached that time of the semester when assignment deadlines are creeping up on us from out of nowhere. The lack of sleep is starting to hit, work is just piling up and you’re trying to figure out what can be left till the last minute. You’re at the stage where you’re questioning why you decided to go to university, to begin with, so here are 10 things I recommend you try not to do when writing your assignments.
- Procrastination and leaving them to the last minute, ultimately means you end up pulling an all-nighter, something that I can assure you isn’t a fun experience. Looking back on papers that I have written the night before they are due in and seeing all the mistakes they have in them, makes me ashamed to have handed them in in the first place. By leaving everything to the last minute you won’t be doing the best piece of work that you can and your grade will suffer because of it.
- Don’t submit the first draft as a final draft. Always proofread your work, reading it out loud is a great way of spotting where sentences don’t flow or if you need to add punctuation. The chances are the only reason you would be submitting the first draft anyway would be if you have left it to the last minute.
- Don’t check for plagiarism after you submit the essay. My friend made this mistake at the end of our first semester at uni. After not having slept for 3 days she submitted the first draft of her essay 15 minutes before the deadline, she then proceeded the submit her essay on to the turn it in plagiarism checker where it comes back as 100% plagiarised. Naturally, she completely freaked out and a week later plucked up the courage to email her lecturer explaining the situation. It was only after a week of thinking that she would be kicked out of uni, that she realised her mistake of checking the plagiarism checker after she had already submitted the essay. Effectively she had plagiarised herself.
- Before you start writing the essay make sure you have a good plan and enough research. There is nothing worse than getting halfway through an assignment and realising you don’t have enough research, especially if have decided to pull an all-nighter. Research and planning take a surprising amount of time, don’t underestimate how long this can take.
- We all know how hard it can be to make up the last 500 words, but when doing this try to make sure that you don’t end up putting random waffle in your essay that will cause you to not gain any marks. Try to make everything you say relevant to the question if you are struggling to look at the assignment criteria might help.
- Remember to always save your work. Write a sentence or paragraph and save. Save even after a word. After losing an essay last year when my laptop broke, I can’t stress enough about how important it is to save and back up work in multiple places.
- Make sure you do sleep. Do not live off of energy drinks or coffee for assignment season. Lack of sleep means you make stupid mistakes and means you will crash faster than if you sleep normally. Try to establish some kind of sleeping pattern.
- Think of the word count. Just because something doesn’t make sense at that moment doesn’t mean you can’t reword it at a later point so that it then makes sense. Even if you think that something is rubbish don’t get rid of it until you meet the word count. Remember to check if quotes are included and if there are any limits on how long they can be. Don’t forget you may be able to go 10% under or over the word limit as well.
- Do the reading for the course (or at least what the assignment is on) and have some idea of what the reference you include say. Obviously for assignments you need to have some idea of what you’re talking about and use relevant information for that assignment.
- And finally, if you are going to pull an all-nighter: make sure you’ve got snacks and water – as sustenance is important for the long night you will have ahead of you. Take blankets and a couple of pillows, it doesn’t hurt to get comfortable.
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