How to Tackle an Assessment Task – Where Do I Begin?

How do I start on this assessment task?
What do you do when given an assessment task? Do you panic or experience a sense of heaviness? Do you wonder “Where do I start?” Is it clear to you what you have to do? How do you know if you are on the right track?

Having been a student myself, at school, at TAFE and at university, and also as a teacher and marker of many different types of assessments, I understand the problem. In fact, many of my students at “You and Me Tutoring” come to me with an assessment task for help to work out exactly what they are expected to do to fulfil the requirements.

Here are 3 steps to take to ensure you are on the right track:

  1. Read all of the instructions
    1. Find a quiet place free from distractions where you feel calm and your mind can concentrate. If you can’t cut out noise, play some soft, classical music with no words.
    2. Read through all the instructions on the task sheet from beginning to end. This may include “Things to Consider”, “Hints”, “Mode of Delivery” and other information. Leave reading through the marking rubric (criteria sheet) until later.
    3. Re-read the instructions and underline all the command verbs, e.g. choose, select, write, explain, describe, discuss, compare (what is the same), contrast (what is different), present, justify, design, create. If you don’t know exactly what a word on the task sheet means, find out from a dictionary, online or from your teacher (lecturer, tutor).
    4. Highlight keywords and phrases which tell you specific information you will need to supply, topics and quotations.
  2. Determine what the final result will look like (text type).
    1. Are you being asked to write an essay, a report, descriptive paragraph, set of instructions or to deliver a speech? Are you to create a poem, advertisement or multimodal presentation? Do you have to conduct a survey, field report or investigation?
    2. What is to be your purpose in the assessment? Are you to give instructions, show feelings, convince others, present information, explain ideas, make recommendations, entertain or teach?
    3. Who will be your audience? Are you writing or presenting to peers, your family, an authority figure, adults or children?
    4. How long is the assessment to be: one paragraph, 500 words, a 3 minute presentation? You will lose marks if you do too little and even too much on an assessment task because you must have enough content and be able to deliver it effectively.
  3. Assemble your resources
    1. Check the resources you have available. Are there any tips, hints and references given on the assessment task sheet? How about textbooks, class notes, revision sheets or handouts?
    2. Obtain more resources (using the internet or library) if needed using keywords and topic headings to find relevant articles. Copy relevant sections of these, the source details and the date into a word document for working with later.

Complete these three steps and you are ready to start. Ask your teacher, lecturer or tutor specific questions if you need further clarification on any points to do with the assessment task. Other students in your group will also benefit from having these questions raised.

If you have found any particular method to get you started on an assessment task, make a comment below.