Understanding your assignment question

The aim of the assignment will be clearer if you identify key elements of the assignment question. To gain a greater understanding of what you have been asked to do and where to start, try identifying these components of your assignment question: Keywords= Also called ‘directive words’. These words explain what you are expected to do in your assignment E.g. analyse, describe, discuss Subject=The assignment topic Aspect=The part or component of the topic you are required to focus on (often a phrase ending in ‘of’) Restrictions=The specific context that you need to investigate; for example, you could be asked to consider your topic in relation to a theory, a text, an area of the industry, a company department etc. For more details, check Section 1 of HEAT (Higher Education Assignment Toolkit)!

Understanding assignment question

Fig 1. Understanding assignment questions (Illustration: J. Ali)


Arina Cirstea


  1. This is valuable information.
    I have tried to teach my students something similar to this. The emphasis on the analysis of the problem and it’s actual semantic content has helped improved the quality of their work.
    Thanks for sharing this with more people.

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