Here are some valuable tips on how to write
Understanding the Assignment
A very important aspect that
demands the first attention is the fact that you should understand what the
question is asking you to write about. Often there are key words in an
assignment topic which you should try to find and get your doubts regarding them
clarified with your tutor. Understanding the various terminologies used in an
assignment topic is also very important. To give you a more clearer idea the
meaning of various terms often used in questions have been given below:
Compare: look for similarities and differences and perhaps reach a
conclusion about which is preferable.
Contrast: set in opposition to bring out differences
Criticize: give your judgement about the merit of theories and
opinions, or about the truth of facts; back your judgement by a discussion of
evidence or of the reasoning involved.
· Define: set down the precise meaning of a word or phrase; in some
cases it may be necessary or desirable to examine different possible or
Describe: give a detailed or graphic account
Discuss: investigate or examine by argument, sift and debate, give
reasons for and against.
Evaluate: make an appraisal of the worth of something.
Explain: make plain; interpret and account for; give reasons.
Illustrate: use a figure or diagram to explain or clarify or make
clear by the use of concrete examples.
Interpret: expound the meaning of; make clear and explicit;
usually giving your judgement as well.
Also note that often an
assignment topic may have more than one such term in the question. For example:
Compare and contrast personnel management and human
Critically evaluate the role of women in modern
Discuss the meaning and nature of leadership. Explain
how leadership is different from management.
Sources of Information
understood the question, start gathering all the required and relevant
information pertaining to the topic. Your information search should include a
variety of sources such as books, magazines, websites, journals, newspapers,
Analytical and Critical
assignment must show that you have analyzed the information that you have
gathered and have been able to put it in a logical and rational manner.
The Cover Page
Make your cover sheet as
attractive as possible but ofcourse within the constraints of the academic
boundaries that a student is expected to follow. The most important items that
you would want to include in your cover sheet are :
The subject name at the top
Your assignment title/question
Submitted to…followed by your tutor's name.
Prepared/written/presented by…followed by your name.
course, degree program, batch, college name
The Acknowledgements Page
titled "Acknowledgements", it includes a word of thanks and appreciation to all
those who helped you complete your assignment. Though there is no fixed pattern
that has to be followed for the acknowledgements, it is always advisable to
thank everyone who has made some valuable contribution towards your assignment.
the list of all topics appearing in the assignment and their respective page
numbers in a sequential manner.
similar to the contents page, this page contains the list of figures that have
been included in the assignment and their corresponding page numbers, in a
name suggests this is a summary or a brief outline of the assignment and gives
the reader a short but valuable guideline about what you have written in your
assignment. Do not simply mention the background of the assignment, but a
summary of what exactly you have written in the assignment. The abstract should
be around 10% of the total word limit of the assignment.
It is essential
that you begin your introduction with very 'powerful' sentences or messages. You
could even use an appropriate quote that fits well with your assignment topic to
make the introduction more interesting. Consider the following quote for an
assignment on Total Systems Intervention :
"The lowest form of thinking
is the bare recognition of the object. The highest , the comprehensive intuition
of the man who sees all things as part of a system. – Plato"
Having written the quote
you can introduce the topic by talking generally about what a problem is and why
organizations face problems today. Remember, I have used the word generally which is to emphasize that you don’t need to go into the depths of the topic
at the introduction stage. Never begin an introduction with the exact subject
matter of the assignment, but instead try to slowly lead the reader towards the
topic by beginning with a very general idea and then getting focused on to your
The Main Body of Text
After having written the
introduction you have to start writing about the main topic of the assignment.
Say for example, if the topic is about the motivation techniques that can be
utilized by a manager, you could begin by writing the introduction, what
motivation is, the motivation cycle and then analyze the various motivation
techniques that can be utilized by a manager, and finally give a conclusion.
All these points need to be
presented in a smooth flow. It should give an evidence of analysis and an
understanding of the various issues arising from the chosen topic rather than a
being a mere descriptive piece of text. The analysis, arguments etc should be
presented in a logical manner and conclusions should
be drawn to add originality to your answer. Remember what examiners look for is
not merely the research findings of others that you gather from various sources
but also your own original analysis.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Finally you could give a
Conclusion or even include Suggestions/Recommendations if you want to.
Referencing and Bibliography
data/information that you found from some source (books, websites etc.) you
should include proper referencing in the text as well as a full fledged
bibliography at the end of the assignment. This is done as shown below:
Referencing in the text
The Harvard system uses the
author's name and date of publication to identify cited documents within the
For example: It has been shown that…(Saunders, 1993)
When referring generally to work by different authors on the
subject, place the authors in alphabetical order: (Baker, 1991; Lewis, 1992;
When referring to dual authors: (Saunders and Cooper, 1993).
When there are more than two authors: (Bryce et al., 1995).
For corporate authors, for instance a company report: (Hanson
Trust plc, 1990).
For publications with no obvious author, for example the
Employment Gazette: (Employment Gazette, 1998).
When referring to different publications by the same author then
the works should be ordered by date in ascending order: (Lewis, 1987, 1991).
To differentiate between publications by the same author in the
same year use a, b, c etc.: (Forster, 1991a). Make sure that this is consistent
throughout the research project and corresponds with the bibliography.
To reference an author referred to by another author where the
original publication has not been read: (Granovetter, 1974, cited by Saunders,
1993). In this case the author who cites and the original document's author both
should appear in the bibliography.
Only use author's initials to differentiate between authors with
the same surname.
Quotations should be placed in inverted commas and the page number
given, for example: the Harvard method of referencing provides a simple way of
coping with the main text and also bibliographies (Bell, 1993:28)
In the bibliography the
referenced publications are listed alphabetically by author's name and all
author's surnames and initials are listed in full. If there is more than one
work by the same author, these are listed chronologically. Also remember that
you should use numbered bullets to list the various sources.
An example of a reference to a book would be:
N K and Cooper, S.A. (1993) Understanding Business Statistics, London,
A reference to a book other than the first edition would be:
(1996) Quantitative Approaches to Business Studies (3rd edn),
London, Pitman Publishing.
A reference to a book with no obvious author would be:
of Trade and Industry (1992) The Single Market. Europe Open for Professions UK Implementation, London, HMSO.
A reference to a particular chapter in a book would be:
(1997) Real World Research, Oxford, Blackwell, Chapter 3.
A reference to a particular chapter in an edited book would be:
(1991) 'Designing and Using Mail Questionnaires', in Smith, N.C. and Dainty, P.
(eds) The Management Research Handbook, London, Routledge, pp.181-89.
An example of a reference to an article in a journal (in this
example volume 20, part 6) would be:
C. and Bournois, F. (1992) 'Human Resource Management: A European Perspective', Personnel Review, 20:6, 4-13.
A reference to an article in a (trade) journal with no obvious
author would be:
Government Chronicle (1995) 'Westminster poised for return to AMA fold',
Local Government Chronicle, 5 November, 5.
A reference to an item found on the Internet would also include
the fact that it was accessed online, the date of access and the full Internet
and Bailey, L. (1995) 'The role of learning centre staff in supporting student
learning', Journal of Learning and Teaching, 1:1, Spring (online) [cited
29 Mar 1996] Available from Internet
URL:http://www.chelt.ac.uk/cwis/pubs/jolt/issue 1.1/page 2.html
Any additions or supplements
that you wish to add to your assignment are included in the appendix. It should
be noted that there can be more than one contents in your appendix. These
should, however, be numbered sequentially. An appendix may include any
information that you feel is worth including. This, however, does not mean that
you can include all irrelevant information too. Information such as an article, a print advertisement, a detailed company report, a
questionnaire etc may be included but you should also remember to mention it in
the actual text of the assignment. When describing a firm's financial standing
you may, for example, explain it's liquidity ratio and then mention that
complete details are available in the company report provided in the appendix.
Also check the following:
word of caution...copying in any form will lead to drastic deduction of marks
A Final Check List
As a guidance you might find it
useful to check that your assignment structure includes the following :
List of Graphs/Figures/Tables etc.
Main Body of Text
Apart from assignments, in most
modules, you also have to appear for written examinations.
Examinations are a test of your
grasp of the course and your ability to apply the ideas learnt. Throughout your
degree you may have to appear for different types of written examinations- both
oral and written. These may include objective-types questions (multiple choice,
true or false, fill in the blanks etc.) short answer questions, essay type
questions. The time limit for the written exams may range from one hour to three
hours. These may be unseen exams, pre-released exams or open-book exams.
Whatever the composition, time
limit or format, exams require you to expend excellent amount of hard work on
acquiring knowledge that meets the standards of high grades. Moreover, you have
to be able to think effectively under pressure and get it right the first time.
Just as you plan your
assignments in a logical manner you must be well planned for your exams too.
Listed below are some key points that will help you in preparing for your exams.
Prepare a time-table for various activities that should help you
in optimum time allocation for your subject matter. Learn in an environment that
is conducive to your maximum work efficiency and has minimum amount of attention
distracting stimuli. If you don't read your course material well even a
relatively easy question will appear daunting to you.
through past exam papers to get an idea about the pattern and the
type of questions asked. Make sure you get in touch with your tutor regarding
There is no need to feel worried about exams. Even top rankers
feel anxious and uncertain about some areas. Being tense will only add to your
woes so let that fear take a back seat and build confidence in yourself first.
Do not burn your mid-night oil and stay up late studying on the
last day. Your mind will not be fresh enough to work at it's optimum capacity on
the next day when you actually write the exam. Have a good night's sleep and
avoid any troubling incident.
Before leaving your home for the exam make sure that you have
taken all your writing instruments, calculator etc. and ofcourse your student ID card.
Enter the examination hall and settle down in your seat as soon as
Be sure to fill up your complete details in CAPITAL letters and
write them legibly.
? Read the questions carefully and make sure that you have
understood the questions and the instructions well. In case you want any
clarifications about the questions seek guidance from the tutor or the
When answering objective type questions, don’t leave any question
blank (unless ofcourse there are negative markings for wrong answers) If you
have no clue about the answer, just tick any one option as a wild guess…you will
surprised by the 'free' marks you score this way.
When answering an essay type question make sure that it is well
organized. Ensure the following points specifically for essay type questions:
Recognize the terminologies in the question and make sure that you
have understood the entire scope of the question and it's parts.
Give a general introduction in the beginning and gradually lead
the discussion to the central idea.
Offer your analysis and arguments relating to the question with an
Give as many examples as possible, both real-life or imaginary in
support of your answer.
Include diagrams, charts, tables etc. wherever possible.
Do not end the answer haphazardly, sum up your ideas and do give a
conclusion at the end.
Exams are not a memory or speed test, but they test your recall of
key ideas taught to you in the course and your application of those ideas in the
Use your time well. You will not be given any extra time even if
you haven't finished answering all your question and hence you should
effectively time your answers for each section of the paper. Do not waste time in
covering the errors with white ink, you can just strike them out.
Present your paper in a structured manner taking note especially
of neatness and legibility. Rough work, if any, can be done on the last page or
an extra sheet which may be cancelled before attaching it with your answer
Having completed your answer don’t rush to leave the examination
hall. Make sure that you have properly attached your extra sheets (if any) in
the right order. Also make sure that you have indicated the fact that you have
used extra sheet(s) and also their total number. Ensure that you have put in the
right question numbers against the answers. Read your paper and check for any
spelling errors, missing words etc.
Last, but not the least, do not attempt to copy in an exam either
from your friends or through 'foreign materials'. !
Having handed your answer
book to the invigilator, walk out of the examination hall happy and smiling :-)
of language used
size and style (preferably Times New Roman/Arial size 12)
formatting: sentence casing, non-bold (bold may be used for headings only),
attractive and clear graphs/diagrams
in a clean file