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How do I approach an assessment task I haven't seen before?

mpower gameYou are having difficulty getting started on an assignment because you don't really understand what the question requires. Do you?
Ignore it and hope it will go away
Wait until just before it is due to ask for an extension
Seek assistance

Your approach

Here are some specific suggestions.

  • Adapt your own experience. You might need to adapt your current experiences of writing in the workplace, for example, to meet the specific requirements of the subject you are enrolled in. Pay attention to the criteria provided in your subject's Unit Guide; use the Objectives for each subject to help guide and inform your response.
  • Adapt from other examples. Make use of the wide range of resources available to help you understand the nature of tertiary assessment tasks. Language and Learning Online provides a range of samples to help you improve your academic performance. Select a recommended study resource from the Library to help you approach tasks in different disciplines. A Google search, limited to edu extensions, will also provide you with examples that can help guide your approach to an unfamiliar task.
  • Discuss the assignment on your subject MUSO site. Ask others how they have approached the task or for resources they found useful in working out how to do the task. If you're more comfortable with 'lurker' mode, stretch yourself and share your ideas about what you think the task involves. Get the discussion going.
  • Ask your lecturer. Clarify the expectations of the task with your lecturer/ tutor. Remember, do some preparation before hand, like the reading, so that you can deal with specifics.

Here are some general suggestions.

  • Appreciate disciplinary conventions. Although all academic disciplines have some features in common, each has its own specific conventions. These differences will help determine how you approach your particular task. As a successful university student you need to be aware of these conventions and be confident in your use of them. See 'Strategies for understanding: adapting to the culture' in What can I do when I don't understand what I'm reading? Explore the writing tab in Language and Learning Onlineto gain an appreciation of different tasks in different disciplines.
  • Take a reflective approach and monitor your own learning. What do you notice about different tasks? What do you notice about different disciplines? What do you know about your own strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve on these things? You will be far more confident in your approach to unfamiliar tasks if you can appreciate these matters.

I've failed my first assignment/ unit: what can I do?

Disappointing as it is, failing is a normal part of learning and experience. Don't waste the effort you have already gone to: there is no need to withdraw completely! Learn something from it.

More specifically

See those options discussed under What can I do if I can't understand the mark I got on my assignment?

More broadly

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