With new students about to start their journey with us, we asked our Instagram community to share their top tips for completing those TMAs (tutor marked assignments). Here’s their advice on how to submit a winning assignment:
Know ALL your TMA questions
It can feel daunting when your module website first opens, but taking the time to read through all of the advice and checking all of the TMA questions for your module early on can relieve some of that worry!
“Look at all the questions ahead of the TMA week. Make a note of which chapters they refer to, that way if you find yourself struggling for time you know which chapters to give more of your focus to. As you read the chapter, have the question written out in front of you and highlight relevant any points.” @kapester1990
“Remember what the question is as you go through the unit. Highlight anything in your study book which may pertain to the question you so you’ve a more focussed amount of text to draw from.” @alos167
Plan, plan, plan… and if you can, plan some more!
Lots of OU students will study alongside working full-time and juggling family responsibilities and many will tell you planning is ALWAYS key!
“Develop a planning style e.g. mindmaps, list etc, that works for you. Doing this early on will mean that you’ll start every TMA the same way so that you can consistently focus on the content to respond to the question asked.” @stuartholtom
“Plan plan plan! An effective essay plan is so important! I learnt this as I went through my first module. Also to read the TMA question before you begin that block so you can highlight and make notes that are relevant to your TMA.” @amandamorris20
“Prepare and always allow more time that you think. Don’t become a 1am TMA writer by nightlight like me!” @travelfunmum
“Divide your plan so you allocate a word account to introduction, main body and conclusion.” @mr_kelsey_
Make tasks easier for yourself
When you first sit down to write your TMA, staring at that blank page can be intimidating. From getting any words down to breaking down the question into chunks, there are lots of ways to make writing the assignment manageable!
“Break your TMA down into headings first, then subheadings and a list of the theories you want to cover. Then work out how many words for each heading/sub-heading. Once you’ve got this outline it’s much easier to get the writing flowing and to make sure you hit all your points.” @kate_ayre
“Break down the question and guidance notes. At first glimpse, the TMA always appears daunting. However, if you break it down into little chunks, it makes the task easier. Plus, it can help when trying to structure your assignment.” @educatrex
“Keep referring back to the question when writing the TMA to make sure you are staying on track. It helps by repeating the question or using keywords from the question throughout your essay. Just get anything down on paper – it’s better than a blank page!” @xsuzy1979x
“Use the audio/read back feature on google or word to listen to your TMA back to make sure everything flows well and makes sense.” @sonicoomph
“Break down the question before you start! I write it out and highlight the key words – one colour for keywords, and one for ‘process’ words, like ‘discuss’ or ‘explain’. Then I go back and read the sections relevant to the TMA and take note of anything that relates to a keyword. – use P.E.E – Point, Example, Explanation!” @islastevens
Keep calm and ask for help
All of our tutors are there to help you to do the best that you can! Don’t be afraid to get in touch to check you’re on the right path with your TMA.
“Ask for help if you need it! Speak to your tutor about your train of thought to see if you’re on the right track. And there’s one certainty about work with the OU…if you’re struggling with it, I guarantee others are too. So check the forums for guidance and support also.” @alos167
“Make use of the online tutorials and edit, edit, edit!” @djfifi
“Firstly, keep calm – you can do this! Read the question and highlight what it’s actually asking. Do the tutorials they are really helpful.” @mccaffer29
Take a break and beat that writers block
Taking a break and thinking about something else for 10 minutes can often help to restart those creative thoughts. Study snacks can help too.
“Have a kettle and some snacks nearby and take regular breaks!” @ccast65
“Always have a steady supply of tea and snacks.” @cazgreeners
“If you are struggling have the courage to walk away from the assignment and give yourself a break…walk round the block….water the plants….anything that breaks writers block!” @sally63uk