Take time to do this. Consider the following:

  • The objectives of the course you are studying.  What should you demonstrate to complete this task effectively?
  • The criteria by which you will be marked (read what you need to do to achieve the top mark)
  • The question itself (which may be lengthy) and identify:
  • Task words (these are verbs or what you have to do)
    • Circle the verbs
  • Topic words(these are the ideas/concepts/issues you need to discuss – they are usually nouns)
    • Underline the nouns 
  • Limiting words- these limit your focus and often involve:
    • Period (of time)
    • Place
    • Population (or group)
    • Bracket the limiting words

Example:
Topic analysis example - small.gif

Not all assignments have limiting words.

If you have to specify your own topic, it is sometimes useful to write task, topic and limiting words into your topic.  This will help you to focus on exactly what you have to do.

Be prepared to read the topic through a few times to make sure that you are aware of all the dimensions of it.

Try to explain the topic in your own words.

To help you to think about the topic further, brainstorm what you know about the topic.