Assessment: Step-by-step

Activity time: 20 Minutes

Types of media: Handout/s, Webpage, Helpsheet


Unknown Author (Unknown Institution)


This resource offers guidance for students on achieving the best possible marks in assessments. Tips include understanding the question or brief, practicality, an awareness of assessment criteria, planning and previous feedback.


Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0

(This resource can be freely repurposed and reused)



Date Modified

Date Added

This information/resource was last updated in June 2022.

This post was originally added to LearnHigher on: January 6, 2012

About this resource

1. Understand the question/assessment brief.

READ your assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Misinterpreting the assignment question is one of the most common ways to lose marks and it can be easily avoided.

  • Look for words that focus and define the topic of your assignment. These words will be:
    • Instruction or question words: e.g. discuss, explain or analyse.
    • Download: Guide to instruction words
    • Topic words: tell you what to write about
    • Any other words that might define or restrict the topic in some way

2. Be practical.

In addition to understanding what you have to do in your assignment, make sure that you are aware of the practicalities you must fulfil when submitting your work:

  • When is the assignment due to be submitted?
  • Do you need to submit a printed or electronic copy or both?
  • How many words are required?
  • How many/what type of sources are you required to cite?
  • What referencing style should you use?
  • If you are doing maths, do you need to show all of your workings?

3. Read any assessment criteria your tutor may have given you.

In the module you are studying, there are certain learning outcomes that you are expected to achieve. For each assessment that you complete for the module, there are assessment criteria which are used to assess how well you have achieved the requirements for the assessment. By reading and understanding exactly what you have to do and how it will be graded, you aim to improve your grades for each assessment.

4. Plan, plan, plan.

To do the best you can, you need to plan how you will tackle each assessment and you will need a time schedule to get your work done on time. The Assignment Survival Kit can help with this.

5. Use feedback from previous assessments.

Read the feedback given on your previous assessments (even from different modules). Make a note of the positive comments, and in a separate column, make a note of areas where you need to improve.

  • Is there a common theme?
  • Are you good at certain forms of assessment but need to improve in other areas?

Make sure you use the feedback from previous assessments and try to improve those areas in your next piece of work.


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