Planning 10 Introductory Assignment Submission

Step-by-step guide to assignment writing

When you’re undertaking tertiary study there are often a lot of assignments and writing to do, which can be daunting at first. The most important thing to remember is to start - and start early.

If you give yourself enough time to plan, do your research, write and revise your assignment you won’t have to rush to meet your deadline. Once you've started, you’ll also have something down on paper or on screen that you can improve on.

Using the steps below will help your assignments to become do-able, interesting and even enjoyable.

Step 1: Plan

Step 2: Analyse the question

Step 3: Draft an outline

Step 4: Find information

Step 5: Write

Step 6: Edit and proofread

Step 1: Plan

Planning your assignment will help you get focused and keep you on track.

  • Check how much your assignment is worth and what percentage of the final mark it is. This will help you decide how much time to spend on it.
  • Check the marking schedule to see what your tutor will be looking for when they mark your work and how the marks will be assigned. This will help you know what to focus on. If there is no marking schedule check the assignment question to see if the information is there.
  • Think about what you need to do to complete your assignment (for example, what research, writing drafts, reference checking, reviewing and editing, etc). Break these up into a list of tasks to do.
  • Give each task a deadline, working backwards from your assignment due date.

Step 2: Analyse the question

Before you can answer a question, you need to know what it means. Read it slowly and carefully, and try to understand what's expected of you. Ask yourself:

  • What's the question about? What's the topic? 
  • What does the question mean?
  • What do I have to do?

To help you understand the question, try rewriting it using your own words using the format below:

‘This assignment is about ______________________ I have to___________________ ’

When you are analysing the question:

  • Look for words that tell you what to do (instructional words). For example, analyse, compare, contrast, etc. 
  • Check the meaning of the words used. 
  • Look for topic words, which tell you what you have to write about.
  • Look for restricting words, which limit the topic and make it more specific.

You can also check for additional information about the assignment and what’s expected of you in the course materials or on your course page or forums.

Tip: When you find something about the assignment on a course page or in a forum save a copy of it. If you save all the information you gather about the assignment in one file you will have all the information in one place when you start writing.

More about instruction words:

List of instruction words - Otago University website (opens in new window)

Question wording quiz - Language and Learning Online, Monash University website (opens in new window)

Step 3: Draft an outline

Drafting an outline will give you a structure to follow when it comes to writing your assignment. The type of assignment you are doing will give you a broad structure, but you should also check the question and marking schedule, as they will help you understand how the lecturer expects the topic to be structured, what must be included, and which sections are worth the most marks.

From there you can create your outline, using headings and gaps for the information you have to fill in.

Types of Assignments

Essay outlines

Most of the assignments you will have to do are essays, which generally follow the same basic structure:

  • Introduction (+ 10% of the assignment) – This is where you introduce the topic and the main points, and briefly explain the purpose of the assignment and your intended outcome or findings. It is a good idea to write the introduction last, so that you know what to include.
  • Discussion (+ 80% of the assignment) – This section is divided into a number of paragraphs. Decide what points you want to discuss and include a new paragraph for each main point. A paragraph usually starts with a topic sentence stating the main idea, followed by supporting evidence and examples. In your outline try and include draft topic sentences and a few ideas outlining what you want to include in each section.
  • Conclusion (+ 10% of the assignment) – Conclusions briefly restate your main argument, evaluate your ideas and summarise your conclusions. They don’t introduce any new information.

Step 4: Find information

Before you start writing, you need to 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:

Once you have found information, the next step will be to evaluate it to ensure it is right for your assignment. For more on how to researching and evaluating information go to:

Step 5: Write

Once you've found the information you need it’s time to bring it altogether and write your assignment.

Write your first draft

  • Use your outline and fill in the gaps, writing your main points for each section. 
  • Write freely, getting as much down as you can without worrying about the wording being 100% right. 
  • You may find it easiest to start with the conclusion so that you know which direction your writing is heading, or the background. 
  • The introduction is often the hardest to write, so leave that till last. 
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to make this draft perfect as it will change!

Fine tune

  • Revise your first draft, and check that it makes sense and includes everything it needs to.
  • Fine tune the wording, and make sure your writing flows well.
  • Make sure you keep different copies of your drafts as you may want to go back to them. 
  • Leave the writing for a day, read it, and fine tune again.
  • Compile your bibliography or reference list.

Academic writing

How to use APA referencing

Step 6: Edit and proofread

Once you've written your assignment, you can improve it by editing and proofreading, but before you do take a break. Even a short break helps you to get some distance from your work so that you can check your assignment with a fresh eye.

Look at the big picture

  • Have you answered the question you were set? Check your assignment against the marking schedule as well as the question.
  • Is the structure correct?
  • Have you included all relevant parts? For example, the title page, introduction, conclusion, reference list?
  • Is the content logically arranged?
  • 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 required)?
  • Check the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Don’t just use a spell checker (it won’t pick everything up).
  • Check your referencing - have you acknowledged all work that isn't your own? 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. 

More about editing and proofreading:

Editing and proofreading - Massey University website (opens in new window)

Editing and proofreading - The Writing Center, University of North Carolina website (opens in new window)

Before you submit your assignment, print it out and check it one last time. It’s often easier to spot errors in print than on screen.

Once you’re happy, submit your assignment.

Submitting your assignment

Related information

Research and reading

Types of assignments

Referencing and avoiding plagiarism

Copyright and disclaimer information

Submitting your work with the Assignment tool in Blackboard allows you to easily upload your homework files to your instructor and receive files back, along with your grade. There is no need for paper or even email.

Accessing Assignments

You can access an Assignment in Blackboard when it’s been deployed by your instructor in a Content Area of the course. Your instructor may have an entire area in your course dedicated to all assignments, perhaps even linked on the Course menu, or assignments may be placed along with related lesson material.

Important Note:

You can identify Assignments by the icon located to the left of their titles in the content area of the course.

Once the instructor informs you that an assignment is available and where to find it, read and follow all instructions carefully, view the rubric if one has been provided, complete the work as directed, then click Submit to pass in your work.

Important Note:

A Rubric is a tool that lists evaluation criteria for an assignment. Rubrics can help your understand what is expected and how you might best meet the requirements of an assignment. They also help instructors explain how your work is evaluated.

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Submitting an Assignment

Once you click the Assignment link, you will be brought to the Assignment page as pictured here.

Important Note:

Assignments and the Inactivity Timer
Something to keep in mind is Blackboard has a 30 minute activity timer and typing is not a recognizable activity in the Blackboard system. If you are typing an assignment and it takes more than 30 minutes to complete, the page may reset. When the page resets, it will not save your work and you will lose the body of your message. We recommend that students compose assignments in a word processing program and either copy and paste the text into the text area or attach the file using the File Attachment button.

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Confirming Your Submission

When submitting an Assignment in Blackboard, particularly ones which include file attachments, you should take the time to confirm your submission. You should receive a confirmation message after you submit your assignment. To be safe, however, you will probably want to confirm you submission manually. There are two ways that you can tell your Assignment has been submitted successfully.

Manual Submission Confirmation
Assignment LinkClick on the Assignment link to view the submission history for that assignment. If you are allowed to make more than one submission, you will also see a Submission History that will display all your submissions by date and time.
My Grades ToolYou can also confirm your Assignment submission by accessing the My Grades area of a course. An exclamation point (!) will appear next to any Assignment that has been successfully submitted. You can access the submission history page by clicking either the name of the assignment or the green exclamation point (!).

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Reviewing Your Results

Assignments submitted in Blackboard are not scored automatically, but need to be reviewed by your instructor. After reviewing your work, you instructor can use the same Assignment tool to provide you with a grade, written feedback, and additional files. You then can review the information in two ways: through the Assignment itself and through the My Grades area.

To review the assignment results through the Assignment Itself:

  1. Return to the Assignment for which you want to review the results.
  2. Click on the Assignment link to open the Submission History.
  3. At the bottom of your submission will be Instructor Feedback that will have a grade, any comments, and any attached files.

To review the assignment results through the My Grades Area:

  1. Click My Grades link in the Course Menu if it is available. Remember, your instructor can rename the title of this link. You will know you are on the right page because My Grades will be at the top.
  2. Look for the Assignment for which you want to review the results.
  3. Click on the name of the assignment to see instructor feedback, inline comments, or to obtain files that may have returned. Additionally, some comments will appear in the comments column to the right of the grade column.

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