Solutions for the Top Five Reasons Students Struggle with Writing Assignments

Solutions for the Top Five Reasons Students Struggle with Writing Assignments

Solutions for the Top Five Reasons Students Struggle with Writing Assignments

Solutions for the Top Five Reasons Students Struggle with Writing Assignments

Writing assignments launch many students into a panic. On a weekly basis, I handle more problems with essay work than with any other school task. Assign papers on literary classics, a historical document, or non-fiction book, and you’re sure to generate problems.

Why Do Students Struggle with Writing Assignments?

Here are SOS4Students’ top five reasons:

  1. Minimal instruction. Often there is minimal (if any) in-class discussion on how to start papers, structure them, and what to use as evidence, especially in high school.
  2. Students are not front loaded with topic ideas. Writing assignments are often given at the end of readings, rather than the start. This requires students to find quotes and examples in lengthy books or documents after the fact.
  3. Directions are unclear. It’s not immediately evident to students what actions to take, especially if directions are lengthy and complex.
  4. Unable to organize or identify where to start. Teachers assume students can organize their ideas, and don’t provide any templates and don’t give any examples.
  5. Lack of feedback before turning in assignments. Teachers rarely read rough drafts and provide constructive feedback before grading. Instead, some classes rely on other students in a misguided practice called peer editing.
What Can Students Do to Overcome Writing Assignment Struggles?
  1. Ask for writing prompts at the beginning of novels and history units.
  2. Request guidance on what to annotate and take notes on before starting, as well as themes to focus on and character development.
  3. Ask the teacher to review an early draft of the essay for feedback. Don’t ever rely on peer feedback.
  4. Get organized by breaking instructions down into a simple “to do” list, and then break down into steps on a calendar or planner.
  5. Meet with the teacher to clarify instructions and to check that brainstorming or outlining are as the teacher intended. Go over papers 1-on-1 with teachers and take notes on feedback from the teacher.

Students who self-advocate will be better able to address many problems with their school writing assignments. This will serve them well in their academic careers as well as later in life in their career pursuits.

SOS4Students Can Help

SOS4Students is here to support students and their families with summer workshops and executive function coaching that teach age-appropriate study skills and strategies to boost academic performance. If you have questions about our programs or other ways we can help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Download our SOS4Students 2024 Summer Workshops Flyer (.pdf)

All SOS4Students’ Summer 2024 Workshops

It’s never too early to begin planning for summer vacation and making time for your student to attend one or more of our popular summertime executive-function-based programs.

  • Designed to build study tools, habits, and strategies.
  • Our workshops sell out, so register before May31, 2024, to ensure a spot and lock in early bird rates.
  • All workshops are held in-person at Orinda Academy Campus (19 Altarinda Rd, Orinda, CA 94563).

GRADES 4 & 5

Junior Executive Brain Bootcamp helps 4th and 5th graders prepare for middle school by honing foundational executive function skills. Sign Up


Mastering Middle School is an intensive master workshop that prepares and teaches incoming 6th graders everything they need to know for a successful transition to middle school. Sign Up

GRADES 7 & 8

Middle School Blitz teaches students entering grades 7 & 8 the essential study strategies they need to manage increasingly complex homework, long-term assignments, and outside activities. Sign Up

Take Note: Introduction to Note Taking for Grades 7 & 8 teaches this fundamental skill to lay the groundwork for continued success in high school, college, and beyond. Sign Up


Nailing Ninth Grade prepares students and parents for the transition from middle school to high school, including how to handle increased workloads and work more independently. Sign Up

GRADES 10 to 12

Executive Brain Bootcamp teaches executive function skills and strategies high school students need to jumpstart complex tasks, plan, prioritize, and become better organized. Sign Up

GRADES 9 to 12

Secrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the essential skill of note taking best practices for textbooks, videos, and lectures, making reading and class time more productive. Sign Up

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