Preparation and planning

As stated on the previous page, the following resources are designed to complement the support and advice of Academic Schools and Departments. Please follow your department's guidelines and only use the materials offered here to supplement these.

Note: these resources are listed in alphabetical order. 

Student writing  



Links to Study Resources for Preparation and Planning
Resource TitleDescription of ResourceSource

University of Nottingham resources


The 3-5 approach

PDF file icon  The 3-5 approach: how to break down assessments and study tasks into manageable chunks

University of Nottingham

Using the 3-5 approach as a study strategy

Moodle resource covering 3-5 approach and writing triangle to support planning writing

University of Nottingham (login required)

How do I deal with writer's block?

Beating the blank page

PDF file icon Strategies include ways of getting some words on paper to start the writing process

University of Nottingham

How do I deal with writer's block?

Ways of planning

PDF file icon Strategies include ways of visualising and writing down your ideas

University of Nottingham

How do I deal with writer's block?

Doing writing differently

PDF file icon Strategies include alternatives to writing as a first step (e.g. sound recording your ideas)

University of Nottingham

How do I deal with writer's block?

Longer term solutions

PDF file icon Strategies include using free writing

University of Nottingham

Hunter gatherer set

When is enough reading?

Planning your writing to manage your reading

Tailoring notetaking to manage reading

The writing triangle

PDF file icon    Set of four linked handouts on managing procrastination and perfectionism

'Hunter gathering' can lead to

  • spending a long time on the reading / notetaking stages
  • doing an excessive number of searches to find suitable resources
  • collecting a wide range of sources (not all useful)
  • taking a lot of notes
  • running out of time to write an effective assignment

University of Nottingham



Click Start > UoNApplications > MindView

or Click Start > All Programs > UoNApplications > Tools and Misc Software > MindView7

MindView allows creation of mind-maps to help with planning assignments. It fully intregrates to import/export with MS Office (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Outlook).

Note the availability of video guides in the Options menu or via the  MindView playlist on YouTube.

MatchWare via University of Nottingham

Planning and preparing to write assignments

PDF file icon Handbook of advice on preparing to write assignments and planning strategies for writing

University of Nottingham

Planning your assignment by paragraph - landscape version

PDF file icon Using index cards to plan and structure each paragraph of an assignment

University of Nottingham

Process words for assignments and exams 

PDF file icon How to understand what a question/title is asking you to do (e.g. 'discuss', 'evaluate'), plus breaking down questions

University of Nottingham

Structuring an essay: mind-map

PDF file icon  Steps on how to structure an essay: presented in mind-map format

University of Nottingham

Tasks for writing essays

PDF file icon Advice on the stages for planning, researching and producing an essay

University of Nottingham

Where and when to work on writing tasks

PDF file icon Factors to help you find the most effective location and time to study

University of Nottingham



Other resources


All-purpose tool for research writing

This tool can help write a paper, presentation, poster, report, chapter, or thesis.  It may be used before you write, as a planning tool; as you write, as a drafting tool; as you revise your writing, as an editing tool; after you have written, as an evaluation tool.  This is part of the Write your research blog.

Anthony Haynes, Write your research blog

How to Mind-Map 

PDF file icon Visual directions on how to plan using mind mapping/spider diagram techniques

University of Hull

List of concept- and mind-mapping software


Overview of free and commercially available mind-mapping software



Tool for telling your research story

A more informal tool to help clarify research writing, also from the Write your research blog

Anthony Haynes, Write your research blog