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The best ways to boost your assessment marks when you’re crunched for time

Students studying together with laptop


As you’ve likely noticed, your postgraduate course is far more rigorous and demanding than what you experienced during your undergraduate studies. One area that can be challenging to adjust to is assessments, especially when you have a lot of other work to complete.

Luckily there are several ways to ensure that your assessments are in top form before you submit them.

Look for assignment clues to find focus

If you’re passionate about the assessment topic, as is often the case in graduate school, it’s easy to get carried away with your ideas and miss key points you’re being asked to address.

Before you get started, carefully read the entire assignment. Circle key ideas and concepts and make sure you understand the question or task you’ve been provided. Be on the lookout for directive words like analyse, compare, or examine and make sure you’re following the instructions.

If you are uncertain about anything, go directly to your course convenor and ask questions. They may have samples of previous assessment tasks you can review or be able to provide advice on your outline or reference materials.


Use marking criteria to your advantage

Before you put in hours of work on an assessment, review how much of your total mark it will be worth. Then prioritise or de-prioritise it depending on how much it is worth. In addition, review the marking criteria, which is usually a part of the assignment you receive from your course convenor, and make sure you apply it as you work.


Demonstrate deep knowledge

Assessments are designed to help your course convenor see how well you understand the concepts you’ve been learning. At the postgraduate level, there is a much higher expectation for critical thinking.

Rather than regurgitating all of the facts you’ve learned about a subject, your assessment should demonstrate a logical sequence of thoughts and show that you understand complex material on a deeper level. To do this, make sure to offer your own original interpretation of your source materials, provide creative solutions to the problems you’re addressing, and demonstrate your critical writing skills.


Be careful to correctly reference

Failing to properly acknowledge your references can lead you to be severely penalised on your assessment, even if you do so by accident. Check each use of your references and make sure you have not accidentally plagiarised by using a reference’s ideas as your own or using incorrect formatting. Finally, make sure you are using the proper referencing style your course convenor prefers. You can also use Grammarly to check your assignments for plagiarism.

Dedicate time for feedback and revision

If you often get marked down for small grammatical or spelling errors, taking the time to revise before submitting your assessment can often substantially improve your marks.

Look for words you’ve overused, spelling errors, and punctuation issues. If you struggle with writing, Grammarly is a tool that can not only correct small errors but can identify issues with sentence structure and other problems. Have a peer read your assessment and provide feedback to make sure you’re on the right track.

Communicate special circumstances early

If you’re experiencing circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assessment on time, talk to your Student Success Advisor sooner rather than later. They can help you formulate a plan for submitting your assessment without impacting your mark if you fall within the grounds of special circumstances.


By checking that you’ve completed the steps above before submitting your assessment, you’ll know you’re ready to turn it in for a great mark.