Here are few important points students must remember, no matter which field of study they come from.
Even a well-researched assignment can fail to fetch good grades if it is not well-written. Good prose style is a dying art in this world of 140 words tweets and Facebook comments. Assignment writing, however, calls for a different style of writing than standard social media English. While teachers in universities and colleges certainly do not expect a Toni Morrison or a Gabriel Garcia Marquez out of a student, yet a good style of writing is crucial for scoring high.
Students who are in the field of humanities and social sciences are expected to write in a highly advanced prose style that should be free from proofing errors. On the other hand, if those in highly technical disciplines like hard sciences or medicine are also expected to write, at least, correctly. Some subjects like economics and business contain a fair share of theoretical analysis too. Hence, adapting a good writing style cannot hurt.
How to write a good assignment?
1. Understand the Topic well:
An assignment, which is written in an impressive prose style, contains no value if the content within is weak. All style and no substance makes for a weak essay. However, if a well researched content is nicely written; it can take the grades several notches higher. So research well. After all, it is a college assignment and not a creative writing essay contest.
2. Choose the words carefully:
Good writing style is just not about bombarding the readers with high-sounding words. Each word has a proper linguistic usage. A word which might sound good in one sentence might not do the same in another even though the meanings remain unchanged. Similarly, a particular context calls for a particular word. For instance, we say “Even the otherwise garrulous John was totally lost for words” and never “Even the effusive John was totally lost for words” because Garrulous and effusive, both refer to the same thing; talking more than what is required. However, garrulous goes well with a person who speaks more than what is required, while effusive goes well with a speech that is exaggerated. Furthermore, garrulous has a negative connotation while effusive has a positive usage (for instance effusive praise).
3. Follow a simple yet intriguing writing style:
Carefully chosen and appropriately placed words makes a good sentence. This ensures that the overall writing style is nice and makes for a good read. Garbled sentences and circumlocution (deliberately trying to be evasive and indirect) do not create a good impression. Here are two instances to make the point clear
Prof. Anna C. Chave wrote this in article in Art Bulletin (December 1994) — “To this end, I must underline the phallicism endemic to the dialectics of penetration routinely deployed in descriptions of pictorial space and operations of spectatorship”
This same sentence could have been written like the following without altering its meaning — “The descriptions of the pictorial space and the operations of viewership contains a contradiction which is underlined by a phallicism common to them”
4. Use technical jargons carefully:
Most disciplines require a fair amount of technical terms. A psychology student will use terms like: “phallocentric”, “penis envy”, “Oedipal Complex” etc. which may not make any sense to those who are not initiated to the subject. While a fair use of technical terms should be tolerated, students must not go overboard with such terms. At least, care should be taken to explain terms which are not familiar.
5. Divide the essay into short paragraphs:
This must be done to break down the central thought into several sub-topics. Not only it makes the essay looks nicer, it also makes it coherent and easy to read. Paragraphs must flow from one to another and should look effortless. Each paragraph should not contain more than the point of argument.
6. Proof check and copy-edit:
Proof checking requires a careful surgery of all the spelling and grammatical errors, while copy-editing requires removal of all the unnecessary portions of the assignment. Even the best of writers require them. Otherwise publishing houses would not have hired proof-readers and copy editors.
These are some of the points that can be followed by any student irrespective of the discipline. Follow these simple tips and never worry again about writing an effective assignment
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