Skip to main content

I don't understand my assignment.

Return to Student Resources

Take a deep breath. A couple of things could be going on for you right now:

  • You have been asked to cover some complicated material in this paper and this material is proving to be difficult to discuss.
  • You have a vague prompt.

Either way, the Writing Program has some tools to help you . . .

  • See the Writing Center's Helpful Hints for tackling your prompt.
  • Check out some additional suggestions [pdf] offered by MIT's Writing Center.
  • Use this Argument Box [pdf] to help you work through your understanding of a concept or reading assignment you need to discuss in your paper.
    • Write the reading/author's central idea in the Main Claim box.
    • List the smaller ideas from your reading that are attached to the Main Claim in the Subclaim boxes.
    • Finally, organize the evidence provided in your readings to support the Main Claim the author makes.
  • Look at some effective strategies [pdf] from the Dartmouth Writing Center for helping you understand the ideas covered in your course readings and lectures. Using some of these strategies may help you to write about your own ideas.
  • Don't know what to do next? Schedule an appointment with the Writing Center.