A Quick Guide to College Assignments: 5 Common Writing Tasks and How to Nail Them
College Assignments

No matter which field of study you choose, developing writing capabilities will become an important part of your academic life. The number of assignments and their variety can be daunting at first. But don’t worry. Gradually you will understand the peculiarities of each type and learn to plan and structure your work so that you don’t have to rush to meet the deadlines. And to make things easier, below you can find an overview of the most common college assignment types you are likely to encounter during your studies.

Research Paper

As the name indicates, this kind of academic paper should present a student’s research findings on a particular topic, based on an analysis of various sources and the interpretation of gathered materials. Such a piece of writing is usually between 10 and 25 pages in length, so it’s often called one of the most complex and time-consuming types of college assignments undergrads have to produce.

Students are expected to identify a topic they’d like to work on; formulate a set of questions they plan to address; find the evidence that helps answer those inquiries using the relevant primary and secondary sources; evaluate and organize the assembled information; demonstrate an understanding of the subject by articulating their ideas on survey’s findings.


The essay is the type of assignment designed to address a specific subject, topic, or issue. Students have to compose an extended answer to the question suggested in the writing prompt and present their own position. The author’s argument should be drawn on facts, and each point must be backed up by relevant evidence, examples, and references. The content of the essay is typically organized according to the following pattern: introduction, body, and conclusion.

Essay writing is a substantial part of every degree program, so lots of your assignments are likely to take this form. The majority of essays fall into one of the four categories: descriptive, narrative, expository, or persuasive. However, their diversity is so wide, it all may be pretty confusing for a freshman student. So if you are not sure what an argumentative, analytical or synthesis paper is, or you don’t have a clue how to start a compare/contrast article, or maybe you struggle to come up with the ideas for a causal analysis essay, you can check out your school’s writing center or seek help from professional writers.


A review is an evaluation of a text, object, event, or phenomenon. As a college writing assignment, it typically aimed to focus on a book, article, or a collection of literature on a specific topic. Depending on the field of study, it may also be a response to a movie, project, website, art piece, or a new policy introduced by government or business organization.

The review summarizes the contents of the specific source, identifying its overall purpose and main arguments. It provides a synthesis and critical assessment of the ideas, principles, or concepts of the work in question. The review should focus solely on the materials under consideration without adding any new contributions. Students are expected to present their impressions of the analyzed piece in the form of commentary rather than a description of the work itself.

Critical Analysis

These assignments ask students to examine a specific academic source and assess ideas and conclusions developed by its author. The critique should be based on the careful consideration of the text’s content to identify its particular strengths and weaknesses. Students should make a judgment as to the literary piece’s merit, relevance, effectiveness, or contribution to a particular area of study. Their response to the reading can be both positive and negative, but either way, it must be supported by evidence rather than subjective view.

Case Study

A case study typically relates to an in-depth investigation of an event, product, certain activity of a person or group of people, or business processes implemented by a particular institution. It is aimed to analyze the situation to understand what happened and why it went on that way. The case study report normally follows such structure:

  • Overview: examine the situation to identify the key problem(s);
  • Introduction: research background info, relevant facts, and significant issues;
  • Discussion: review course readings and link real-life events to the corresponding theoretical concepts;
  • Findings: evaluate various aspects of the case to determine what is working and what is not, why some decisions lead to success while others bring failure, and how different matters impact the organization;
  • Recommendations: suggest realistic, viable, and achievable solutions to the problem or propose the changes needed to enhance the current state of affairs.

Bonus: Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography may be a stand-alone paper, or it can form part of a complex research project. The purpose of this sort of assignment is to identify the key academic sources on a given subject and assess their relevance to the context of the task.

The survey results are commonly organized as an alphabetical list of the selected items (e.g., book chapters, journal articles, Internet pages) with a brief commentary on every literary piece. Each entry is presented as a fully referenced citation formatted according to the appropriate citation style. It is followed by a paragraph or two that contains a summary of the source’s major points and the evaluation of its content as regards its value, effectiveness, and usefulness for the topic being researched.

Recent Posts