By Ayrton Cois

In either work, uni or general day-to-day life, there are certain criteria’s that we are set or we set for ourselves that must be met. Starting an assignment is always a daunting task – how do you even begin to answer the question set for you? In times like this, the CRA is your best friend.

When I first started university, little did I know that the best piece of advice I would receive, would come from my older sister. A teacher with a master’s in education, who completed with honour’s and basically straight 7’s.

At the time of her studies, she too was working full time and taking on a full time study load. I asked her, “how do you manage all of that?!” to which she replied “you just need to stick to the criteria… for everything” I was confused because it all seemed a bit too simple.

We didn’t really go into it much more until I reached my first piece of assessment for uni. I was really struggling with what the task sheet was asking me to do. It seemed way too broad and I didn’t know where to put my specifics for what really mattered to getting the grades. This was when I went to my sister and said, “what did you mean by ‘sticking to the criteria’?” Then she explained it, and it all made sense.

[Source: IMGFlip].

Where Are You Going Wrong?

Getting too bogged down in the non-specifics, the creative and expansive side of writing an assignment can lead you down a deep dark rabbit hole away from the criteria. Throw away the task sheet for a minute and step back to the criteria. Lo and behold, the answers are in front of your eyes. It gives the break down to where each percent of your grade is going, and it gives a set list of what needs to be in the assignment to achieve this. When you finally go back to the task sheet, it will be all so much simpler and became merely a guide of where to start based around what criteria you are trying to meet.

What makes the CRA so important?

1. It breaks each component of an assignment into specific percentiles of how you will be marked.

2. It shows you where you need to put your effort and focus (e.g. Structure may hold 30% of the assignments grade and Research only 10%).

3. It explains the minimum standard needed to obtain each grade point.

4. It is the structure and the requirements for your assignment, unlike the task sheet.

5. This is idea of ‘sticking to the criteria’ will start takeover. You’ll feel as though every assignment you start, you won’t fail, because you are meeting the base criteria, and you know where your marks are going and which boxes you are ticking within that criteria.

6. This eventually brought me to where I sit today. A full-time student, taking 5 subjects and working a 38+ hour week, whilst still maintaining some level of sanity through my day-to-day activities and social life.

Each component of life can be broken down into different criteria. It’s foolish to think you will tick the highest box on every criteria, in every aspect of life. It’s a balancing act. But by sticking to the criteria to pass an assignment, the criteria of what must be completed at work and the criteria of maintaining a connection with people and personal interests (e.g. exercise). It will help to take away from the stress and anxiety of “where am I failing?”.


Obviously, the foundation of all this comes back to communication and letting your boss, your lecturers/tutors, classmates and friends where you are at, or if you are struggling and need some help.

By identifying the criteria in whatever aspect of life, it will help to take away some of the stress of general uni life and allow for focus on each individual part of life as separate ‘subjects’ and know that at the bare minimum, you are not going to fail or come off second best.

So… READ AND ESTABLISH THE CRITERIA! It will make life a lot more manageable and give you a sense of control even when surrounded by chaos. This idea of ‘sticking to the criteria’ will do you wonders – as it has for me!


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