I'm not sure I understand my writing assignment.

Before writing any paper for a college course, it is important to make sure you understand what you are being asked to do for the assignment. If your instructor has given you a written assignment, re-read it, paying attention to the following:

  • What is the prompt? What specifically are you being asked to do?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment? Who is the audience? If you do not know the answers to these questions, ask your instructor.
  • key words--What words are used to describe the assignment? Pay particular attention to the verbs and what they are asking you to do. Do you know what all of those words mean? If not, look them up or ask your instructor what they mean.
  • formatting guidelines--Are you required to follow a specific format? Is there a page length requirement?

If you do not have a written assignment sheet/handout, ask your instructor to clarify the assignment for you.

What can the Writing Center do to help?

Some questions about the assignment can only be answered by your instructor, so you should be prepared to discuss the assignment with your instructor if you have questions about it. However, consultants at the Writing Center are experienced in reading and interpreting assignments. When you attend a Writing Center session, we ask that you bring a copy of the assignment with you if you have one, and we will read through the assignment sheet/handout with you, helping you to answer the questions listed above. We can also help you get started in thinking through your ideas for the assignment and how to take the next step with your writing.