By Mariah Bennett-Gillard
It is the time of the quarter when midterm writing assignments are due. Fortunately, they are not as scary as they sound.
Midterms, finals, and standard writing assignments can be broken down into the following 5 components:
1) There will be a subject overview of what the instructor wants you to write about. This can include, but is not limited to, reading assignments such as books, articles, or essays; class lecture material; discussion or guest speaker appearances; and research done outside of class.
2) Next is the format the paper is expected to have. The instructor wants you to do something with this assignment. Look for the action words in the instructions.
- argue –attempt to convince your audience of the validity of your position. You do not have to agree with the subject matter
- summarize – rephrase the main idea of the assigned material using your own words.
- discuss – for each idea you present in your paper use examples to expand and elaborate. Include your own thoughts and the relevance of the chosen examples.
- interpret – explain what the author/writer/creator is trying to say through their book, poem, article, film, etc.
- compare – explain how concepts (from articles, poems, films, theories, etc) are alike and the differences you discovered.
3) Make sure that you do not overlook terms such as why, what, when, where, how because they indicate requirements of the assignment and can help you expand your ideas.
4) Suggestions are usually included by the instructor to help get you rolling. They often appear as sample questions on the handout. If you have your own idea regarding your assignment, bring it up to your instructor. He/she will listen and give you further input, if needed.
5) Finally there is assignment length and due date. The instructor will have a minimum and maximum amount that they want you to write. Assignments can be measured in page length or in word count.
If you still have questions about the assignment, stop by your teacher’s office hours or send an email. If you need help figuring out how to start the assignment, make an appointment at the writing center and a consultant can assist you.