Understanding your assignment task

Before you start writing your assignment, it is important you are clear about the assignment type and any specific requirements you need to complete.

How to analyse your assignment task

Step 1 Collect the information about the assignment

Collect all the information about your assignment. This requires careful reading, not only of your assignment task but also your criteria sheet and any other assessment information that may be on your unit blackboard site. 

Step 2 Work out the genre of the assignment

Identify the type of assignment you have been asked to write. Make sure you understand the genre (type of writing ) of  your assignment. For example, an essay is written and structured differently from a report; students commonly confuse the requirements for literature reviews and annotated bibliographies; and a critique requires you to do more than simply provide a description. Check the panel on the left for more examples of typical genres.

Step 3 Identify the key words in the assignment

Consider the language of your question. Assignment tasks contain key words that will help with your interpretation and analysis. The assignment task becomes easier to understand if you break the question down by looking for key words.

Consider this example of an essay task:

Australia's tourism industry is the third largest in the country in terms of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Much of its success is due to Australia's unique geography. analyse the geographical factors that both contribute to and hinder the success of tourism in Australia

Key words



Content words

Tell you what areas of the subject you will need to address in your assignment.

Australia's tourism industry

Directive words

Tell you what you have to do with the topic.


Limiting words

Define the scope and focus of your assignment; they limit the subject matter so that you know what should and should not be included in your writing.

geographical factors that both contribute to and hinder the success of ...

Further information

Understanding the task on HiQ.