Friday, June 15, 2007

Answer the Question!

Have you ever received feedback that your essay did not meet the assignment requirements? To avoid this from happening again, follow the assignment description your instructor has provided. Often professors will use the assignment description as a rubric or as an indicator of key criteria that need to be included in a paper. The verbs used in the assignment description offer a hint of the expectation of the assignment. Check out our handout titled, Verbs Used in Essay Questions, to understand the kinds of responses required by different questions.

Another important way to view your assignment description is to look at the concept words used in essay questions to have an idea of the key concepts that you will need to address in your assignment. Another of our handouts titled, Concept Words Used in Essay Questions, discusses how to use concept words in essay questions to create a successful assignment.

Often instructors will include a list of questions that they will expect the paper to address. Below are some examples of assignment questions:

What is your assessment of this article’s contribution to …?
What is your analysis of ….?
How was the history of feminism affected by ….?

It is a good idea to structure your paper in such a way that the answers to these questions are obvious to the marker. This can be achieved by changing the question into a statement and using it as a subtitle in your paper. A clear thesis statement that includes the main aspects of your response will also guide the reader.

The above assignment description questions can be changed into the following subtitles:

An Assessment of the Contribution of ... to ….
An Analysis of ….
The Effects of … on the History of Feminism

Next time you sit down to begin writing your paper, remember to keep your assignment description close by, and refer to it often. This will help you to keep on track with your assignment response and avoid losing focus of your instructor’s expectations. Your paper may be interesting, coherent, logical, and grammatically correct but ask yourself the same question the instructor will ask: “Does it answer question?”


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