By Leanne Goodall

Are you stuck trying to write your latest TMA for The Open University?

Let’s guess: you have no idea where to start, you can’t decide how to structure it and you’ve found a whole host of others things that you can do instead. Don’t worry, that’s a totally normal state to be in and hopefully this article will give you a boost and a few suggestions of where you can find some help.

I’ve just finished a TMA myself and am only days away from starting another. I often find myself feeling fairly confident about the course content and if I can understand the question then I feel like I can give the TMA a good shot. That’s all before I begin to write. As soon as I sit down to start the TMA everything changes. I can’t think of where to begin, I scribble all kinds of notes down and move them about within the ‘first draft’ but this is an endless cycle until I’m running out of time and forced to just write something. Despite this I have picked up some tips along the way so let’s take a look at what you can do.


Talk about your TMA with other people. That could be friends and family but let’s face it they’ll often struggle to keep up as they haven’t read the materials themselves. Sometimes just a basic chat about structuring academic essays can be all that’s needed and anyone who has experience with writing them can be of assistance. You can also talk to your tutor, use your tutor group forum to discuss TMA related items with fellow students or find other OU students online. Talking it out can help you clarify those few points or give you an idea of where to start and make the world of difference.


Re-read relevant sections of your books and see if you can pick bits out that you haven’t noticed before. Perhaps a little closer reading will unlock something and give you a starting point. Read the information posted by tutors on the forums – they will give you a better guide of what is being asked of you and sometimes they give you some ideas where to start. Read other blogs and articles on study help sites. The people that write these usually have plenty of experience in the field of writing assignments and might just have what you need. There are plenty of other articles on this website that can help you with your TMA just have a browse about or try the search option.

However you choose to get help with your TMA you’ll need to remember to break it down into simple steps.

Work out what exactly the question is asking of you.

Think about the types of things you need to include in an answer for that type of essay and where you can get examples to use.

Once you have those basics then you just need to get a plan together. Begin with an introduction: do you need to explain any tricky terms before you tell the reader what you want to say? Do you need to provide any context before diving into details? After a clear introduction you’ll need to put your points into an order and base each paragraph on one point. At the ends of those paragraphs add a killer conclusion. Make it very clear what the main points of your answer are and link it directly back to the question.

 Now all you have to do is actually get on with it…we wish you the best of luck!

Leanne is half way through a BA (Hons) in History with the Open University and enjoys writing as a freelancer as well as on her blog. Find out more here. You can catch up on all of Leanne’s excellent contributions on STOU here.

Have you ever struggled with a TMA? Where do you look for help and what tips would you give others who need a bit of assistance? Please LIKE/SHARE/TWEET or leave a comment below. This social currency helps us to grow and improve the value we are able to provide for OU students 🙂

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The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.