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Coursework tips

Coursework tipsFollow these five tips to make sure your coursework shows off what you're capable of.

Understand what you're being tested on

Hard work is important, but it goes to waste if you're not working on the right thing. Before you start planning your work, make sure you understand how it will be marked and what the examiners are looking for. You can talk to your teacher or tutor about this if you aren't sure.

Take it a chunk at a time

Your coursework is a big project, and it looks even bigger when all you've got is a blank page. But the worst thing you can do is put it off: it's much easier to do a chunk of work every week than to do the whole thing at once when the deadline gets close.

To break the work down, try:

  • Setting aside a regular slot to work on your coursework
  • Setting yourself goals for reaching certain points in the work
  • Thinking carefully about how long you need to spend on different parts of the work, such as research, writing and checking

Set your own deadlines

It's important to know when your coursework needs to be in by, but you should aim to have it finished well before this. Set your own deadline at least a week before the official one. This means that you have time to check over your work really carefully - and if anything goes wrong, you've got extra time to fall back on.

It can also help to set smaller deadlines for other stages of your work, to help you keep track of progress.

Know the rules

However good your work is, you can lose a lot of marks or even be disqualified if you break the rules. The biggest rule is about plagiarism, which means passing someone else's work of as your own. That could be:

  • Copying a sentence from a website or a textbook without saying where it came from
  • Sharing work with another person
  • Getting someone else to do part of your work for you

To avoid problems, always make it clear if you're quoting someone else's work, and ask your teacher or tutor if you're not sure.

Backup your work

Imagine you've worked hard for weeks to make your coursework as good as you can get it... and then the computer it's on gets stolen. You're left rushing to redo it all, and the end result is nowhere near as good.

Avoiding that nightmare scenario is easy. All you have to do is keep your work backed up. If you're working on a computer, then this could mean emailing it to yourself, keeping a copy on a USB stick or using a program like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you're working on paper, you can take photocopies, or even take a photo of your work to give you something to work from if anything goes wrong.

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