Step-by-step guide on Writing an Accounting Assignment
The journey to completing an accounting course will require the successful completion of a variety of assignments. Everything from reports, essays, practice sets, and even projects are part of what to expect in the course of studying accounting. It can be difficult to navigate how to translate the knowledge learned in class into successful assignments. Hence the need for a guide to help you navigate it.
Here is a detailed step-by-step guide that is extremely useful in helping you through writing an accounting assignment.
The planning process will involve two steps; understanding your assignment and creating an outline for your work. This step is the first and most important in successfully tackling your accounting assignment.
a) Understand your assignment
Depending on what your assignment is, i.e., a report, an essay, or a practice set, the first step in planning how to tackle it is understanding the requirements of the essay. This looks like, knowing what the topic of your assignment entails, looking at any mathematical tests assigned, and determining what the best way to tackle them would be.
For example, an assignment on say, how to create a balance sheet could have different sections i.e., one question could have some definition of terms and one could include doing some workings of different components to get the totals needed to create your balance sheet. Understanding your assignment will give you the direction needed to start researching and writing your work. It will inform you on where to look to be able to successfully tackle your accounting assignment.
b) Create an outline for your assignment
The next step in planning is having an outline or a basic structure of your assignment. Having understood the assignment topic and requirements, you need to create a skeleton of how your work will flow. Different assignments take different formats depending on the assignments issued by the accounting instructor. It is therefore important to create an outline to help you focus on the different sections of your work. For example, in a report assignment, the structure will differ from a p-set assignment.
The outline also offers direction on where to research your topic. For most accounting problems, the answer to one section feeds the other. For example, in the above, you cannot create a balance sheet without doing the workings to get the figures for the components of the balance sheet like the liabilities, depreciation, inventory, etc. To be able to get the depreciation figures to be used to get the net book value of the fixed assets, you have to have workings for the different assets. Hence the need for an outline.
2. Reading and researching
Once you have a plan for your work, the next step in writing your assignment is reading and researching. Reading is where you will go through your class notes and review them on the topic given. Reading gives you an idea of what additional information you need that will inform your research. There are 2 steps in reading and research;
a) Finding information
Research is mainly about finding more information on the topic you are tackling to be able to write a proper assignment paper. In an accounting essay or report, finding information involves using publications, web pages, and books to better define the different headings and subheadings in your essay. For example, if your essay is on formats of cashflow statements, finding information for this will be looking at different accounting books, International Accounting Standards (IASs) governing cash flow statements in this case IAS 7, and using this to better inform your essay.
For accounting problem sets like say, creating the cash flow statement, finding information on this will be looking at examples on accounting books and web pages to have an example on how to complete your assignment. Find information in sources that are accurate and verifiable so that you get a correct paper free of errors. The credibility of your sources is also what makes the answers to your assignment credible and correct.
b) Reading and taking notes
Once you have the sources of information sorted, the next step is reading and taking notes that are relevant to your assignment topic or problem sets. To avoid plagiarized work in essays and reports, make sure that you read the information to understand, that way, when you start writing, you will write in your words and therefore avoid the penalty that comes with plagiarized work. Try to solve some problem sets you find in your research to get an idea of how to solve the ones in your accounting assignments.
For our above example, try to create 1 or 2 cashflow statements from examples on the books or on the web to give you an idea of how you will tackle your assignment. Take notes on the different principles that govern cash flow statements to avoid mistakes. Remember that the answer to one section of the assignment will most likely feed the other in accounting, hence take care to get each section correctly. Taking notes also enables you to distinguish between phrases that are yours and those that are of other authors.
Once you have read and understood your topic and have the notes necessary to tackle your assignment, then the final step is writing. Writing will take 2 steps, the actual writing of the assignment and then editing and proofreading your work to remove any errors.
a) Writing your assignment
Create several drafts of your work to give yourself room for error and correction. The first draft will be mainly filling out the outline you had created with the information obtained from your reading. Before incorporating your research findings into your research, try writing from your understanding. Try to tackle any problem sets in the first draft to allow yourself room for error and the chance to correct them if any occur.
The second draft of your writing should take care to hit all the important points of your topic and should be relevant. This is where you now incorporate your findings into your work, ensuring that any definitions in your assignment are correct and ensuring problems are tackled to the best of your ability. For our assignment on cashflow statements, the first draft would be the workings to determine the different components that will make up your cashflow statement i.e. the sections of cash flow from operating, investing, and financing activities. The second draft will be putting together the different sections to see if they create the cash flow statement we were working on. The results from the workings section are what make up the statement which is what makes up our assignment.
b) Edit and proofread
The last step in your assignment will be editing and proofreading your work. This is one of the most important steps and will ensure that there are no errors in your work. For essays and report assignments, read your work out loud to be able to detect any missing punctuation, wrong use of words, wrong spelling, and any sentences and paragraphs that may be too long and illegible. Use grammar tools to better countercheck your work.
Proofreading of accounting statements is checking if the statement formats are as dictated by accounting standards and for the example of the balance sheet if the equation balances i.e total assets= liabilities+ equity. Take care to also run your assignment through a plagiarism checker to ensure that you do not have any duplicate work that could lead you to get a low grade, especially in essay and report assignments. By following this step-by-step guide, planning, researching, writing then reviewing your work, you are assured that your accounting assignment will be successfully tackled.