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Ten tips to advance your academic skills

by The Library on 2023-05-03T14:47:00+10:00 | 0 Comments

Whether it’s your first or last semester, it’s never too late to advance your assignment skills.

These ten tips will help you maximise your productivity and minimise stress when planning, researching and writing assignments. With a bit of preparation and a few key academic tools, you can ride the waves of assessments with confidence.

The following resources can be found in the Academic Skills Pocketbook and on the Study Smart website.

  1. Use the Assignment Calculator to generate a personalised step-by-step timeline and writing plan to guide you from a blank Word document to a finalised and submitted assignment. Trust us, the Assignment Calculator is a secret weapon to streamlining your time, focus and managing your workload. Try it out now by adding your assignment title and due date.
  2. Analyse the question. This step is often overlooked, but ensuring you have a solid grasp of the essay question will orient your research and writing towards accurately completing the task. One of the best ways to get started is to rewrite the question a few times in your own words until you’ve compiled a list of alternative key terms you can use in your research. Check out this 3-minute guide, this checklist, and ‘Writing Fundamentals’ (chapter 8) in the Academic Skills Pocketbook.

This short video will put you on the right track:

  1. Write your introduction first and last. Write a basic draft introduction first which forms the basis for your essay. As you continue writing your body and conclusion, you may write the assignment slightly differently than you initially planned. When you have a complete essay draft, revise your introduction if needed to match your conclusions and the order in which you structured the main ideas in the body of the essay.
  2. Before writing, carefully read the marking rubric, assignment guidelines in Vuws and the unit learning guide. This will help you understand what the tutor marking your assignment is looking for in your writing and ensure you don’t receive any deductions for simple mistakes, such as not following specified document formatting.
  3. Manage your research carefully. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of an essay and realising you don’t know what page numbers to attribute to the quotes you’ve referenced. When compiling notes, organise them by page number, or use a referencing tool to manage your resources. Enhance your skills with the Academic Writing Skills section (chapters 5 to 9) of the Academic Skills Pocketbook.
  4. Make sure your references are academic. If you don’t know the difference between a media article and a peer-reviewed article, use this module to understand the different types of information sources. Use the APPEAL checklist to help you identify whether or not you’re referencing a reliable academic source.
  5. Try using the graphic reading organiser. This tool will help you to pull out the key points from your research in a succinct, visual and easy-to-use format.
  6. Make the most of your Studiosity account. Through the Library subscription, Western students can use Studiosity a limited number of times each session. You can submit your draft assignments for writing feedback from Studiosity Subject Specialists. Log into Studiosity via your Vuws home page.
  7. Check your eyesight. Wait, I mean your I-Cite! Referencing is a very common pitfall for students. Use I-Cite, the Library’s thoroughly helpful referencing tool, to manage your references. Book an appointment with a Study Smart Librarian to improve your referencing skills.
  8. Edit, edit, edit! Use this fantastic Study Smart editing checklist when you finish your next assignment. Try some of these methods when reviewing your work: 
    1. Change the font type and size. This may make it easier for you to identify spelling and grammar errors. 
    2. Print out the document and read it on the page. You’ll be surprised by how many mistakes you notice in print versus on a screen. 
    3. Read it aloud! Sometimes the best way to notice a mistake is to hear it. You could also use digital tools that read your work aloud for you.
    4. Don’t forget to use the editing checklist!

If you’re looking for advice on searching, information literacy or referencing skills, book a one-to-one appointment with a Study Smart Librarian.

Do you have a lifesaver study tip that has helped you throughout your degree? Share your ideas with us on Instagram or Twitter: @westsydulibrary

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