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Preparing for Academic Writing

After you have gained an understanding of your assignment by analysing the information given to you, it is advised that you create an assignment timeline. Creating an assignment timeline can help increase your certainty and clarity over what you need to do and when.   

Use the tabs to learn more about how you can plan your assignment timeline.

You may feel that it is difficult to create a timeline this early into your assignment, or that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how long each step will take. These feelings should be considered when making a plan. First you should note that your initial attempt to plan is educated guesswork.  You are simply considering what steps you think you need to take and how long they should be. As you progress through your assignment timeline you can review your plan and update the timeline to be more accurate.

Inevitably some things may take shorter or longer than you had initially planned. If you are progressing quickly that is good news as you have some extra time that could be spent on your assignment or on something else of your choosing. However, do make sure that you are confident that you have met the required marking criteria within the step if you are moving quicker than planned. If things are taking longer than planned, consider how you will adjust your timings and steps to ensure that your work can be handed in on time. If this is not possible consider if you could apply for extra time through the Late Submission Request Procedure or the Exceptional Extenuating Circumstances Procedure .

When creating your initial plan, it may be wise to plan some leeway into your schedule. A good rule of thumb would be to plan extra time in each step. So if you expect research would take you two weeks, plan three weeks to complete it in. If it takes the normal amount of time, you have an extra week. If it takes longer then you are prepared. Another method of creating leeway is to aim to beat your deadline by submitting one week in advance. 

During your studies you will often be working towards multiple assignments at once, alongside other deadlines (such as applications) and any responsibilities (work, caring, childcare etc.). When planning your assignment you should take into account that your assignment may not be your only focus. For more information on completing multiple assignments see our academic writing is assessment season livestream.

You may find it easier to plan your assignment by starting from your deadline (or your personal deadline if you are aiming to submit in advance), and working backwards to the start of your assignment. If you attribute estimated times to each step you can establish when you realistically need to start. Backwards planning allows you to consider the whole process, so that you allow crucial time for referencing and proofreading. Proofreading, for example, is an opportunity to evaluate if you have hit the marking criteria, and then to make any necessary actions (such as further reading or rewriting a paragraph). If this step is undervalued in planning then you may find flaws in your work but not have the time to fix them.

If you would like to know more about how to time manage or how to motivate yourself throughout your academic writing timeline, see our Improving Marks in Academic Writing Guide.

 

In this episode of the Assignment Journey Podcast Alex and Diana (Skills Graduate Placement), discuss how you can use your understanding of the assignment to structure your assignment. They go through what is expected in an introduction, main body and conclusion of an essay as well as a simple paragraph structure.

Managing time over the course

 

In this video from the Time Management workshop, Naomi from the Skills Team discusses how you can manage your time over the course of a semester through backwards planning.

Academic writing in assessment

 

In this hour long livestream, Alexander and Naomi discuss their advice for thriving in assessment season, including how you can time manage during this tricky period and how to manage multiple assessments at once whilst looking out for your mental health. 

Structure and Planning

 

In this episode of the Assignment Journey Podcast Alex and Diana (Skills Graduate Placement), discuss how you can use your understanding of the assignment to structure your assignment. They go through what is expected in an introduction, main body and conclusion of an essay as well as a simple paragraph structure.