How to Read a Prompt

When reviewing an assignment sheet or a prompt for a class, many students can feel overwhelmed by the amount of information or misinterpret the instructor’s expectations. This handout is designed to help you navigate some of the finer points of reviewing a prompt to ensure you are understanding all the expectations for that assignment. Below is an example of an annotated prompt by a student who identified important points of the prompt. On the next page, we have also included a sample checklist developed from the prompt, which can help you keep track of the assignment expectations.

Sample Annotated Prompt

Example of an annotated prompt

  • You can use different colors to denote different kinds of information in the prompt.
  • Highlight the important pieces of the assignment like the length, genre expectations, due dates, any important work that needs to be submitted prior to the final due date.
  • Note any special requirements. In this assignment, you are asked to not only review a film, but you are also asked to review a film you have not seen before.
  • Do not dismiss suggestions to view outside examples or other sources. Especially since this professor is not explicitly explaining the parts of a popular review, it is up to you as a writer to analyze and determine what those expectations are.
  • Take notes on the assignment sheet and write down any questions you might have. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor questions when you are unclear about the expectations or how to get started.
  • Even though this information comes at the end, it is important to note any stylistic requirements like citation style, font, document type, and where information is placed.
  • Be sure to review the prompt multiple times throughout the writing process to ensure little details are not forgotten.

Checklist Developed from Annotated Prompt

  • 500-750 words excluding screenshots from the film.
  • See a film you have never seen before.
  • Analyze other film reviews to see how they are written from websites listed on Blackboard.
  • Examine audience, tone, organization, and the different parts of the film reviews to reflect this structure in your own paper.
  • Examine how much of the film reviewers typically give away and how positive/negative reviews are composed.
  • Write review in a Word document and double check to be sure it is meeting above expectations.
  • Submit the paper to Blackboard with title “LAST NAME Film Review” by 4/6 before midnight.
  • Double check the font is Times New Roman and 12-point.
  • Include last name and page number in the header.
  • Center the title of review below the name, class, and date in upper left corner.
  • The Works Cited page should be in MLA style.