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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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2.2 Distinguishing between different types of assignment

It may be more common to find one kind of assignment type in a particular subject than in others. For example, science assignments may consist of short questions that require short answers, while a social sciences assignment might consist of short answers explaining a definition or essays explaining a theory. Regardless of the subject they are studying, students will probably have to write a variety of assignment types during their studies.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

You are now going to gain an overview of some of the assignment types that you are likely to encounter in your university studies. Look at the list below of descriptions of various types of assignment. Match each assignment type with its appropriate description.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Report

  2. Short definition and explanation

  3. Essay

  4. Short-answer exercise

  5. Summary

  • a.An assignment that gives detailed information and analysis about a topic; it will often have different sections, with headings that have different functions; there is an introduction, different sections and a conclusion with recommendations

  • b.A word or concept is briefly defined and explained

  • c.Brief answers in response to questions; the contents of one answer is not necessarily directly connected with the next

  • d.A short account of the content of something you have read, heard or viewed without details

  • e.An assignment that focuses on one topic; it has an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = a
  • 2 = b
  • 3 = e
  • 4 = c
  • 5 = d


During your university studies, you will be asked to complete a variety of assignment tasks to demonstrate what you have learned. Having a good understanding of what is required in the various assignments that you are asked to produce for your university modules will help you fulfil the task and get better marks.