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5 Tips for tackling a take-home assessment

By Danielle Barakat on 10 February 2020NSWblogAssessmentsUKblog

Take home assessments can be something of a poisoned chalice. In comparison to exams, they seem way less stressful, but if not handled correctly they can end up being a major banana skin. Thankfully, we’ve got a few pieces of solid advice on how to get the most out of a take-home assessment, so here goes:

Use the time you have

The natural temptation we all have when given a take-home assessment is to relax a little. No need to rush or panic, there’s plenty of time to get this done, right? Well, yes – until it’s a few hours until you have to hand it in and have done nothing. Then, it’s panic time.

Any take-home assessment is going to factor in the amount of time you’re given for the task, so using all of it is important. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend every waking second between receiving the assignment and handing it in working on it, but it does mean you should structure your time to reflect the demands of the assessment. Doing so will not only reduce your stress levels but will also improve the quality of your work.

Plan your answer

So now that you’re going to use all that time, how exactly should you use it? First of all, by planning your answer.

Just what your plan will look like will depend on the subject in question and the nature of the assignment. Whatever the task though, this step will involve brainstorming how you want to present your response to the questions asked, then building a structure for presenting that response.

In an exam, you often don’t have the luxury of mapping out a full plan for an answer. Take advantage of the fact that you do in a take-home assessment.

Use your teacher as a resource

If the time you are granted for your assessment is limited, this one may not be as much of an option. However, if you have days or even weeks to complete an assignment, your teacher should be one of your main resources.

Let’s say you have a take-home History assignment which you have a month to complete. Regularly checking in with your teacher for advice on how to approach the questions and formulate different sections of your response will, for obvious reasons, improve your work. Your teacher is not going to write the assignment for you, but will be thrilled at the chance to weigh in with a helping hand. And an important thing to remember is that with assignments, it’s generally your teacher who is marking them – so listen to their advice, they know what they’re looking for.

Use drafts

This one is another time-dependent solution; if you only have a matter of hours to complete a take-home, the luxury of using drafts for your answers will be beyond you. However, if you have enough time for multiple attempts, doing so is a must.

No matter how much you hate going back and editing your work, it’s an essential step when putting together any long term project. Each draft you produce for the assessment will be an improvement on the last, and when the time comes to hand the work in, you will have achieved the best version of the project you could have produced.

Stick to what is being asked

Let’s say you’re given a week to write a 2,000 word English essay. You say to yourself, what if I write a 5,000 word answer? I’ve got the time, and the more I write, the more I can say, therefore the more marks I can get – right?

I’m afraid not. In fact, most assessments will mark negatively for falling outside of the outlined structures. Instead of trying to sneak in a longer answer, or provide impressive but unrelated material in your response, just focus on giving the best possible answer you can within the guidelines outlined by the question. That’s what the marker will want to see, so give them that – just a really good version of that.

Remember

Much of your approach to take home assessments revolves around organisation and timing. Don’t leave things to the last minute, plan out your response and spend the time writing drafts, revising them and receiving back, and you should be well on your way to assessment success!

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