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As you write

9 - Dissecting the Question.

How to break the question down.

This makes a big difference

Questions and “Sub-questions”

Obviously one of the things that most impacts the mark you receive for a question is how much of the question you have answered.

Yes, this seems very obvious but it is an area where many students lose marks.

Generally an assignment question is made up of a number of parts, or “sub-questions.”

It is crucial to “dissect” or “break down” the question into it’s sub-questions.

At university, and in your professional job you need to be able to break down the requirements of a task into it’s components and then complete each one.

To illustrate this I will use a simple example. It may seem to be pretty dumb, but I like to use stupid examples as I feel it helps students remember techniques.

The Dumb Question:

I have 3 pets; a rat, a cat and a koala. What do you think they eat and where do they sleep?

This question has 6 parts or “Sub-questions.” Can you see them?

To get full marks you need to answer all 6 sub-questions well.

You need to structure your essay to answer all 6 parts.

I will use a mind-map to layout the problem. These are explained in the technique “Mind-Maps – Break a problem into it’s Elements.”

Here, there are two ways you can lay out the information. You group it either by animal or by activity. It does not matter which you use. The important thing is to put this amount of structure into your answer.

The next step is to lay out your essay. You convert the headings that your mind-map produces into the headings in your essay.

The answer could be something like:

If your assignment involves doing a report, you can make it look more professional you can add section numbers. This is particularly useful to layout a complex report where there are lots of sub-questions.

Here I will use the structure given in this second mind map. It is grouped by activity and then by animal.

When you place the mind-map headings into your essay, the answer could be something like:

You can see from this example that we are answering all 6 sub-questions. We have dissected the question and have answered each of its parts. If we were to miss one of these 6 parts we would probably miss out on 1/6 of the marks.

We have also laid it out in a way that is professional and should help the person marking it to find the information they are looking for. This should help you get more of the marks that are allocated to each of the sub-questions.



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