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Expert tips for writing an assignment when you’re short on time

How to maximise your study


While writing an assignment under pressure can present challenges, there are many things you can do to simplify the process.

Create an efficient writing schedule

To keep yourself on track, block out a reasonable amount of time in your study schedule to work on your assignment. For example, let’s say you’ll allot four hours to completing your assignment. Break this down into manageable tasks. Allot 10 minutes for brainstorming, 20 minutes creating an outline, 90 minutes reading, 60 minutes writing a rough draft, 45 minutes revising your draft, and 15 minutes proofreading. If you stick to the schedule you’ve created, it will prevent you from trying to do too much in a limited amount of time.  

Don’t underestimate the planning process

To save time and energy, planning out your assignment is essential. Review your question or task, make sure you understand it, and do some uninhibited writing where you consider your position on the issue. If you need more help, you can refer to this brief guide to planning and writing an essay.

Since you should be familiar with the topic from your course work, you should be able to generate original ideas prior to selecting supporting sources. Once you’ve considered your ideas, make a list of several that you feel most strongly able to support. Then make an outline that includes your central points in a logical order.

Read, but not too much

While it may be tempting to read every expert’s views on the subject at hand and include every source on your topic in your assessment, this isn’t a good idea when you’re short on time.

Unlike some undergraduate courses where you may have been asked to simply recall concepts, postgraduate courses ask you to demonstrate that you have thought critically about topics. That means you should start with your own argument and use sources to support your own ideas, not the other way around.

Choose several relevant passages from your sources that support your ideas. Add them to your outline so you can quickly incorporate them into your paper once you start writing. Don’t forget to include the page number and title so you can properly cite your sources as you write.

It’s okay if your outline changes a bit as you look further into your sources, but don’t go overboard. Refer to your assignment question frequently to make sure you’re staying on track as you outline. Before you start writing, review your outline once more to make sure your ideas are in a logical order.

Start in the Middle

If you’ve created a detailed outline that incorporates your own ideas and the sources you’ll use to support them, writing your assessment should be much easier. If you encounter writer’s block, writing the body of your essay before the introduction and conclusion can be helpful.

Don’t be afraid to write a rough first draft where you get your ideas out. You can polish your sentences and improve grammar and spelling later. As you write, refer back to your outline to make sure you stay on track.

Split your time between writing and revision

Rather than writing your assessment in one sitting, alleviate pressure by breaking it up into more logical shifts. It can be especially helpful to separate the writing and the revision process by a few hours or ideally a full day. This will give you the distance you need to see what can be improved. Asking your peers to review your assessment before submitting it can also help you catch any issues you didn’t notice.

Finally, if you need objective advice and support, remember to reach out to your Monash Online Student Success Advisor on 1300 655 491.