Steps To Success

Essays and assignments are information tasks. You are usually asked to investigate a topic or answer a set of questions about it, showing your understanding of the facts and ideas you have read during your research. The best way to do this is to follow a series of steps called the 'information process':

The Six Steps of the Information Process

Understand the task

Read the task information and work out what you have to do.

  • Read the whole task sheet carefully.
  • Check the exact meaning of any terms you do not understand.
  • Highlight the keywords.
  • Find the key parts of the task.

Make your own topic plan if the task does not outline the parts you must cover.

  • Break down your topic into smaller parts if needed. You could use dot points or a mind map to do this.
  • Arrange the parts in a sensible order.

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Locate information

Look for information in libraries and on the internet.

  • Use the library's computer catalogue.
  • Use indexes and tables of contents in books.
  • Search the internet and use online resources like newspapers and journals.
  • Ask the library staff.

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Select and Analyse

Choose relevant information and makes notes from the best parts.

  • Check that the resources you use are up-to-date and trustworthy.
  • Collect information that is relevant and important to your task.
  • Be aware of bias that can exist within particular resources.
  • Make notes in an information file or task scaffold. GoogleDocs is a useful tool for this.
  • Start to put together your bibliography.

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Organise and Synthesise

Combine information from the different resources you use into your own sentences and paragraphs.

  • Fit together information from the different resources used in your own words.
  • Use headings, subheadings and paragraphs where appropriate to build the framework of your essay, report or presentation.
  • Check that you have covered all the required parts.
  • Develop a perspective or argument on the topic if you are writing an essay or report.
  • Make judgements and draw conclusions if required.

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Create and Present

Present your information in an effective way.

  • Follow presentation instructions.
  • Present information clearly in a format appropriate to the task. Combine text, tables, diagrams, images etc. where appropriate.
  • Use word-processing and other computer and web applications to enhance the presentation.
  • Look for creative, original solutions to presentation challenges.
  • Edit your work carefully.
  • Make sure that your bibliography is written correctly and shows all the resources that have been consulted.

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Evaluate and Reflect

Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your attempt at the task.

  • Read the teacher's feedback carefully.
  • Evaluate how well you coped with the assignment.
  • Look for areas that need improvement.
  • Seek help with finding the best ways to make improvements.

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