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Study Skills


It is always good to start working on your assignment by analysing the information contained within the assignment question or direction. This ensures you do not miss important parts of the assignment, and gives you a chance to ask the instructor if you need clarification.

Analyse the Assignment Question or Direction

Most assignment questions contain the following components:

  • Subject matter or topic: What, in the most general terms, is the question about?
  • Aspect or focus: The angle or point of view on the subject matter. What aspect of the topic is the question about?
  • Instruction: Instruction words or phrases tell you exactly what to do.


Red = Topic

Green = Aspect

Blue = Instruction


Discuss the problems associated with urban overcrowding and evaluate possible solutions.

  • Topic: urban overcrowding
  • Aspect: problems; possible solutions
  • Instruction: discuss; evaluate


Some questions also contain:

  • Restriction or expansion of the subject matter. This is a detailed limitation of the topic. What, in specific terms, is the question asking for?


What are some of the major obstacles to gender and ethnic equality in NZ organisations? What organisational strategies and/or social policies would you recommend to address these issues? Be as specific as possible.

  • Describe: give a detailed account of characteristics, properties or qualities of a subject.
  • Recommend: provide feasible, realistic and practical solutions or suggestions to an issue or problem.
  • Restriction: in NZ organisations.

Look for Specific Requirements

See if the assignment instructions have listed any specific requirements you need to follow.

  • Is there a certain software you need to use? (e.g. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint)
  • Is there a specific wordcount limit or page limit?
  • Is there a certain number of references you need to source in a certain style (e.g. APA style)?
  • Is there anything you are told NOT to include?

Check the Due Date and Time

Make sure you know when the assignment is due, including both the date and time. Avoid leaving it until the last minute in case there is an issue with the learning management system or internet when you need to upload it. If you want to review the assignment with an Academic Learning Advisor or Subject Librarian, you need to allow time to take their feedback into consideration and make changes before the assignment is due.