Understanding Writing Assignments and What Questions to Ask Worksheet

Assignment Writing: Preparation

Use this Writing Assignments and What Questions to Ask Worksheet to help you make sense of instructions for different types of writing assignments. Ten exercises focus on your understanding of a sample set of instructions.

Understanding Writing Assignments and What Questions to Ask


Read through the sample instructions below for a hypothetical writing assignment for a sociology class. After reading the example instructions, answer the questions in each exercises to work through the steps in understanding an assignment.

Example assignment instructions for an essay for a sociology class about social problems:

Throughout this course, you have read about, thought about and examined various aspects of culture and how each affects society. Pick a social problem with which you identify or something that you see as a social problem, and take a position on the best way to address the problem.


  • Explain why you identify with the social problem.
  • Summarize the effects on society
  • Make an effective argument for your position, and support it with facts obtained through research.
  • Suggest ways in which the problem can be addressed.
  • Evaluate whether research supports your position.
  • Use at least 4 sources, 2 of which must come from a scholarly journal.
  • Write following the APA style and formatting rules.
  • What is the task of the assignment?

  • Do the instructions give you anything to contemplate?

  • Are there any action verbs you can identify that help you understand the expectations of the assignment? What are they?

  • If you were taking this sociology class, what types of things from classroom lectures and homework assignments might clue you on the purpose of the assignment?

  • What do you think is the purpose of the assignment?

  • Who is your audience?

  • What tone and level of information would you use based on these instructions?

  • Do you need to conduct research? If you answered yes, how would you go about finding the information you need?

  • Are there any questions you would ask about the assignment before starting it?

  • Once you understand the assignment, what are your next steps for completing this specific assignment?