The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has been quite lenient on wordcount, however, they have advised us that they will be rejecting assignments exceeding the wordcount by more than 10% in future.
Yes it is a challenge to achieve a pass within the required wordcount, however, in this day and age concise writing is an art and they key to producing powerful written communication for both senior managers and assessors. Therefore keeping your work brief and to the point is an essential management skill to learn.
To help you to become more concise with your work we have put together the following hints and tips:
Tip 1 – Answer the assessment criteria, no more, no less
Be focussed –jump straight into the answer rather than providing a lengthy introduction and conclusion. Don’t ramble – get to the point.
Tip 2 – Following the task will take too many words. Just look for key words such as ‘theories’ which means two, and ‘example’ which means you must give a workplace example.
Tip 3 – Use tables to minimise long-winded sentences.
No table should be more than one page so keep sentences concise and to the point. Be careful using bullets as the CMI will not accept a list, but tables with short, sharp explanations work really well.
Tip 4 – Screenshots and powerpoint slides inserted into your text can be a great way of getting large amounts of information into the assignment without affecting the wordcount e.g. screenshot an Action Plan or PESTLE analysis.
Tip 5 – Stick to the command verb e.g. evaluate, explain.
For evaluate use a table with the pros and cons in two separate columns then a conclusion at the end to make your recommendations. See our blog on command verbs for more help with this.
Tip 6 – Headings
We encourage you use the assessment criteria as a heading. Headings are not included in the wordcount.
Tip 7 – Record the wordcount after each task.
When you have finished each section of your assignment you can highlight it and right click, this will give you the wordcount for the section. Place the wordcount figure at the end of each section to illustrate how many words you think you have used.
Tip 8 – Big picture, small picture
Are you someone who likes to write a lot? Don’t worry. Whilst this will take you time, you can write your full answer first and then edit it down to a manageable size later. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR FIRST COPY just in case you get a refer and need a little more information for a second assessment.
Tip 9 – Writing about models and theories
This is an important one. If you want to talk about a model or a theory you don’t need to describe the theory in detail or the background to its development. Just name the theory and who published it and then use it. As an alternative you can copy and paste a graphic from the internet (remembering to reference the source to avoid plagiarism) which illustrates the model.
Tip 10 – Quotes
Quotes are great to use – but just choose one or two, don’t use loads. Referenced quotes are other people’s work and are outside of the wordcount, but there is no need to overload the reader with a long list.
Finally to summarise:
Included in wordcount:
- Your own work
- Tables if they relate to the assessment criteria
Excluded from wordcount:
- Referenced work from other sources
- Tables which do not relate directly to the assessment criteria
- Powerpoint slides and screenshots inserted into the text
Remember the Pareto Principle
20% of effort
produces 80% of the outcome.
Don’t waste time doing the other 80% of the work when
short, succinct answers are the best.
See our exemplar assignments on the website for illustrations of these techniques