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Writing an academic report: making a plan

When you have been assigned an academic report, the plan of action you take will determine whether or not you are successful at completing the assignment. You might think it is silly to create a plan before you write an academic report, but in most cases, students who skip the planning stage usually forget important elements. Since instructors want to see what you have learned and if you can follow directions, skipping vital elements and missing instructions can have a negative impact on your academic report grade. This are some tips to help you make a plan and stick to it:

  • Write it down: Students often think that making a mental plan is the same as a written plan. The two could not be more different. With a written plan, you cannot skip a step because you forgot it. With a mental plan, you could forget many steps. When you write down your plan, the physical act of writing helps to cement the steps in your memory, making you more likely to actually complete the assignment properly. You will be able to check off the steps as you complete them, but you cannot do this with a mental plan.
  • Review your assignment: Since most instructors provide written instructions, you can use those written instructions to create your own plan. Look at the requirements and be sure to include them all in your written plan. Look at the grading rubric and include the elements that will help you earn a top grade. Your plan should be based on everything required for the assignment, plus a little extra to act as a cushion.
  • Stick to it: If your assignment requires you to include three sources from three different media, then be sure that you accomplish the task. As you find those sources, write them down so you know you have used three different forms of media.
  • Craft an outline for the report: Your plan should include a real outline. You can use the outlining style that works for you, but be sure it includes the required parts of the report, like the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. If you need a works cited page or an appendix, include those in your outline. That way, you will not forgot to includes those sections of your report.

With a useful plan, you will ensure that you complete your assignment exactly the way your instructor intended.