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How to deal with struggling with assignments?

for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

As I don't know your specific subject, I can only give you general advice on what I have done myself.

I follow more or less a formulaic approach to assignments for social science subjects (because once you have done enough of these, they get repetitive):
Introduction - should include definitions and outlines what you intend to discuss
5-8 points
limitations - critical thinking required
conclusion

I start with the skeleton of the essay (use headings if necessary and remove them later if not applicable), then fill in the paragraphs as I go along.

The answers to your essays are usually within the lecture notes of the relevant topic that has been covered. You will need to go through these with a fine tooth comb, as these can be as minute as a single sentence on a single slide.

The recommended reading in your unit outline should also give you the extra reading material that should give you the 70% that you should aim for (provided that you get at least the basic answer correct to get the 60%). You would need to sift through these to ensure you pick out the references that are relevant to what you need.
Other sources that are recommended include references in relevant Wikipedia articles (but not necessarily from Wikipedia itself), references provided in your lecture notes, and references from the relevant sections of the relevant chapters of your core text for the module.

When drafting your assignment, I would throw the kitchen sink at the first draft, then I would edit things down in subsequent drafts. It's very difficult to get everything right in your first draft; the only people who I have seen done this are seasoned veterans in the specific and specialised subject that you're writing about (probably your lecturer for example). Every other mortal would do things iteratively and with a lot of revision.

I find it easier to do the assignments if I know what to expect and what I can work with. If you know what you need to go for, then it's a lot more motivating than having a blank page to do virtually anything.
Reply 2
Thanks, that was helpful
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Hey!

Totally get where you're coming from. It's not always easy diving into topics that don't spark your interest. For those less exciting modules, try breaking down the assignments into smaller tasks. Start with something small, build momentum.

When it comes to choosing essay questions, think about what aspects of the module intrigued you the most. Find a question that lets you explore those bits it makes the whole process a bit less painful. Also, maybe chat with your professors or classmates for ideas. Sometimes, bouncing thoughts around helps.

Remember, you're not alone in this struggle. Feel free to reach out, if you need any help!

Best Wishes
Priya :smile:
Postgraduate Ambassador
University of Southampton
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Hi there

I think it is quite common to get a writers block when it comes to assignments, and you may encounter this several times through out your degree. Here are some tips that i found helpful to get started on my essay:

If there is a question that interests you, have a look at that, if not choose the topic you are most familiar with in terms of the content and the possible debates around the area.

Identify the main points of the question, what is it asking, what topic do you have to focus on?

Focus your research and reading around the specific topic, and see what other authors have to say about it. It is also important from here to decide whether you agree or disagree with them.

Dive straight into the body of the essay if you find it easier to do so. You can then return to the introduction later on.

Sometimes I would feel like putting off coursework for later, but it is important to start early and motivate yourself. Coursework, compared to seminar preparation are often more important as they count towards your final grade. So make sure to keep up your effort towards assignment periods.


I hope this helps.
Chloe
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Anon,

I think when it comes to writer's block that just beginning is a start to overcoming it. It doesn't have to be perfect. You will most probably look back at what you have written and think that most of it is not useful, but just by beginning the writing process, you are beginning to engage with the work.

There will always be some work/modules that you don't feel particularly inspired by and that's fine, you just have to try and make the best of it, so choose an essay question which you feel you can write about even if it doesn't particularly inspire you. Try and do lots of reading around the essay question so that even though you are not particularly interested in the topic, you know what the important things are, can explain them well, and can write critically because you know the topic well.

The more you throw yourself into something, even if it's not your favourite area, the easier it will be to engage with it.

All the best,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield
(edited 2 months ago)
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Hi there,

This can be tough! It's hard when you feel as though you have writers block and don't know how to get started on an essay.

Here are some of my tips:

1.

If you can, talk to your academic advisor or tutor as they may be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to choosing essay questions. Or, you can always ask them if the question you have chosen is right.

2.

Once you know what the question is about, skip the introduction. I always find introductions so hard to write and if you just go in with your first point, it can get your ideas flowing and then you can come back to the introduction later.

3.

Write out a plan. This always helps me as it gives me some sort of structure to the work and I can jot down ideas for each point as I go along if I think of one which really helps later.

4.

Start early! If you can, try and start a couple of weeks in advance so that if one day you really can't think of anything, you still have plenty of time to write it. Sometimes, leaving it until the last minute makes me feel stressed and unable to think of good ideas.

5.

Lastly, if you are struggling to think of ideas, you could always ask friends or family if they know anything you could write about. It doesn't hurt to ask around, as long as you don't copy anything and this may just make you think of an idea. You never know!

I hope some of these help and good luck with your essay writing,
Lucy -SHU student ambassador
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Hey!

I've struggled with the same thing and I found making a quick mind map for each question helps me to choose which one I'm going to do. It also means that you have a bit of a plan for the essay you do choose!

I usually go straight into the middle of the essay as it's sometimes easier to get going this way and then come back to the introduction afterwards! Getting something down on paper is often the best way to get started, even if it's not perfect, it's easier to keep going once you've started!

I hope this helps!

-Rebecca, UCLan
Original post by Anonymous #1
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?

Hi there!

I would recommend that for modules you do not find particularly interesting, you should give yourself blocks of time to work on it. This should be spread across up until the deadline for the assignment.
Doing it this way makes it easier for you to work on it as you don't have to spend along period of time doing something you do not like.
Also remember that at uni you don't always like your modules or assignments but you do need to work towards finishing them.
However tale breaks and do mot put too much pressure on yourself as you do this.

Best wishes,
Glory.
Lancaster University student Ambassador
Original post by Anonymous
for some modules that I guess I am not that interested in I find it hard and get writers block on how to get started and struggle to choose essay questions for assignments?


I can sympathise, and inevitably most students will experience this - it's just almost impossible to go through a whole degree without having a couple of compulsory elements that you just aren't that interested in!

In terms of motivation and just getting started with things, it's also worth bearing in mind that "done is better than perfect". So just writing something so you can hand in anything is better than not doing anything. It may not be the best piece of work you've produced but you've got something to show for it - sometimes that can be enough (and often you may surprise yourself!).

The main thing you can do is basically the classical tool of "do X amount of time of work then spend Y amount of time doing something fun you enjoy doing", and basically just working through it in little chunks like that interspersed with spending time doing whatever it is you like to do. Play some video games, watch some TV or a film (or part of one), talk with friends, browse the internet, post on TSR, whatever! Also it doesn't necessarily need to be based on time - it can be for example "I will write X words then watch Y episodes of my favourite show" or something.

The exact amounts of time can be varied as needed - no point saying "I will spend 9 hours working on this then 9 minutes doing something fun" because you will almost certainly not stick to that, so just pick something reasonable to start with and then if you're "on a roll" with the academic stuff you're working on, just extend that time as needed. However do make a point of focusing on the academic thing during that time - put your phone away, remove other distractions, make sure you have a drink or whatever else you need before starting etc. But just breaking it down into chunks and having stuff you like doing in between can make it much easier to make long term cumulative progress on things :smile:

For choosing essay questions on which to work on, if none of them are that interesting to you just take a more pragmatic approach: which can you objectively write the best essay on/which is the best question for writing an essay around? You might find there was one topic which you have better notes for, understood better, or have at least some ideas of secondary literature to look at for compared to others; there might also be some where the question might be very open or hard to "pin down" when others are more structured or straightforward. Pick the path of least resistance!
(edited 2 months ago)

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