• Anjori Mitra

When You've Left Your Assignment to the Last Minute...


It’s an all too familiar feeling – somehow, that assignment you thought you still had at least a week to do is due in 48 hours. Even though you were told about it months ago, and diligently entered the due date into your calendar with all the good intentions in the world, somehow you just never quite got started on it, and now the situation is dire.

Fear not, my young friend! We’ve all been there, and you can still get that assignment out on time. If you need inspiration, check out this girl who completed a 12,000 dissertation in a cool 12 hours. Here’s how to do it:

1. Get an extension if possible

You should really only ask for an extension if you have a VERY GOOD reason for needing one, and can prove it (read: procrastination or being over-committed won’t cut it). If, for example, you or a family member has been ill or your laptop was stolen, you might want to see if you can get a bit more time to hand in your assignment. However, tread carefully - only ask for a few extra days and make sure you definitely hand your assignment in by the extended deadline and profusely thank everyone involved in granting you an extension.

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Even this face won’t help unless you have a good reason for asking for an extension.

2. Prioritise your time

Whether or not you were able to get an extension, put absolutely everything else that isn’t urgent to one side. Cancel all your other plans, get someone else to take your shifts at work and, if you are really running out of time, check what classes you can miss and catch up on later. Until that deadline, nothing exists for you except that assignment.

Source // giphy

You, doing your assignment.

3. Work out exactly how much time you have to do what

Calculate exactly how many days (or hours!) you have until your assignment is due. Then, divide the time you have by the tasks you need to do to finish your assignment. Be really strict with setting deadlines for yourself. For example, if you have three days, allocate one full day (and no more) for research, one full day (and no more) for writing and the final day for editing and referencing. Speaking of referencing, don’t underestimate how long this can take – make sure you leave enough time for it.

4. Check the relevant textbooks

A classic rookie move is to blindly search legal databases in the hopes something relevant will come up. This is a terrible idea, because it wastes time, you might not find anything, and you’ll have no quick way of checking if what you’ve found is out of date. Instead, find a recent textbook on the area of law your assignment is on and look up the authorities cited in the relevant chapter. The authors of those textbooks have already done the hard work for you. And if you don’t know how to find a relevant textbook, for the love of god don’t wander the library aimlessly. Ask a librarian or check the additional recommended readings in your unit outline.

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Except don’t read all the books – just find the relevant section or chapter.

5. Ditch arguments you don’t need

Focus on the absolute essential material you need to include in your assignment in order to answer the question. Don’t waste time on unnecessary or extraneous arguments, or on more difficult arguments that will take a lot of time to research. Get a draft done as quickly as you can, and if you have extra time left, you can always flesh it out with extra arguments.

6. Don’t panic

Take a deep breath and don’t panic. The adrenaline rush of an impending deadline is good; becoming paralysed by anxiety will only make things worse. Keep confident that you can get the assignment done on time, and remember that when you’re a real life lawyer, getting things done under pressure will be a way of life. Think of your current situation as practice!

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You, once you’ve handed in your assignment.

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© Updated as of 2019
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