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Identifying the Specific Purpose of an Assignment

Most student writing is in response to a brief or a question, usually given by a lecturer. Thinking about this brief or question will help you decide the purpose of your writing. Tasks 1 and 2 will give you practice doing this.

Task 1


Task 2


In addition, a sentence or two about the specific purpose of the assignment is often found in the introduction section, or in the first paragraph. In Tasks 3–4 you will do exercises connected with identifying the purposes of some assignments by looking at the questions and the reasons the writers give for answering the questions.

The assignment questions and extracts in these tasks are taken from real coursework written at British universities so they give you an idea of the kinds of tasks to expect.

Task 3


Task 4




At the beginning, it’s hard to understand the differences of 5 primary purposes. I answered all the questions from Task 1 wrongly. But before I went to the next task, I looked into the reading material several times thoroughly until I understand enough the differences among them. So the result, I answered all the questions from Task 2 to Task 4 correctly.

Task 3 & 4 are really awesome.

Task 4 is great!

Task 3 also really useful!

This Task (Task 2) is much clearer than Task 1 (I felt)

I found this task rather hard as there seem to be multiple possible correct answers - e.g. 'How does a catalytic converter work?' sounds like the title of something written by a specialist for a non-specialist, which possibly fits the definition given earlier about Writing for oneself and others. The 'Plan a lunch for wedding' didn't strike me as being obviously about professional practice in an academic field, though I suppose it could be relevant to Hospitality Management?