The Skidmore College
Expository Writing Network

Analyzing Assignments

Before you begin writing any academic paper, it will be to your advantage to look at the paper assignment systematically to determine the demands, perimeters, and expectations of the assignment. The following seven questions are guidelines for such an analysis:

What does this paper topic ask you to do? Look at the imperative verbs (commands). Do these    words give you clear directions? If not, ask your professor for clarification.

What is your purpose as the writer in the situation of writing this paper?

What do you need to know to complete the writing of this paper?

Does the paper topic specify a form or organization?

Does the paper topic allow you to limit or broaden the assignment's focus?

What kind of reader makes up the audience for the paper you will be writing? How will this imagined reader affect what you include or omit in your paper?

Does the paper topic specify a length? What are the deadlines?

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