Assignment Types

Attending Bible College is a major investment of time, energy, and money. The majority of students indicate that their main purposes in attending Bible College are to grow in their walk with God, learn more of His Word, and become effective in defending and sharing their faith. As you understand the investment you are making (and those who give generously to this ministry) and the goals you have set for yourself, you will no doubt want to do all you can to make the most of your time at Bible College.

At Bible College, learning takes place in a variety of settings: dorm life, sports teams, friendships, socials, and academics. At NBC, we strive to maintain a healthy balance in our emphasis in these areas, but we do want you to understand that we view academics as a major component in your learning. In light of that, we have developed this guide to help you get the most out of your studies at NBC.

Following is a list of the basic and most common types of assignments you will encounter:

  • Daily or periodic assignments issued regularly in class
  • Reading, which may include book reports, interaction questions, reading logs/journals
  • Class presentations or projects (sermons, speeches, devotionals, maps, charts, etc.)
  • Study and interaction papers
  • Research papers
  • Exams and quizzes

The two main areas of course work are reading and written assignments. The goal of this guide is to equip you to do both more effectively and is based on the following assumption:

Though the majority of students have the ability to communicate thoughts and facts orally, not many know how to put their thoughts into writing. However, by knowing and applying some basic guidelines to studying and writing effectively, students will greatly increase their effectiveness in reading and their ability to communicate through writing.

NOTE: Throughout this section, material is sourced from:

“Student Resource Packet.” Caronport, SK: Briercrest Distance Learning, 1996. Used with permission. Some revisions made.

A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, 8th ed., 2013.

©1995-2004 The Write Place.  Kelly A. Larson and Mark Koop. It may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Tips & Guidelines


Getting Started

Read in a setting that does not distract you. Reading the table of contents will give you a broad idea of the structure of the book. Also preview any graphics, pictures and diagrams to get a general overview of the book’s main ideas.

Read the preface to find the author’s purpose for writing it. Underline the purpose or write it on a card. Use the card for a bookmark.

Clarify the Assignment

Review the assignment(s) from the courses that are associated with the textbook. Jot them down on the same card you are using for a bookmark. This will help you keep focused as you read.

Make Notes in the Margins

Make special note of introductions and conclusions of chapters — they are strong clues to the main points.  Try to grasp those broader concepts as you read, rather than becoming distracted with too many details. Mark unfamiliar words. Look them up right away and record a brief definition in the margin. As a general rule, try to avoid excessive highlighting.

Understand and Evaluate

If you can read blocks of words or units of thought instead of individual words, your speed will increase but do not read so quickly that you cannot remember or understand what you read. 

Try to ponder the principles, thinking as you read about what the author is saying about his subject. Make a brief outline in your own words on a separate sheet of paper. Look for main arguments and make note of ideas that are new to you.

Asking yourself some of the following questions as you read will help you in understanding and evaluating what you are reading:

*Is this clear and readable?
*Does this effectively develop and fulfill the stated purpose?
*Is it balanced and comprehensive or is something missing?
*What applications might I make?
*Do the facts seem to be correct and are they supported?
*Are there any contradictions?
*Do you agree with the author’s conclusions?

Review, Reflect, and Apply

Review what you have read from your notes or highlighted sections. Think about each section after you read it. Tell others about what you are reading. Apply new lessons as soon as possible.

Unless you have been given special instructions by the instructor (be sure to double-check your syllabus), the required elements of a complete book report should be as follows:

*Title page — see the title page for the sample research paper. The title should be: 
A review of Title of the Book in Italics
*Table of contents page — this must include the bibliographic information for the book under review as well as headings for the three sections as outlined below.
*Body — the actual content of the book report, which consists of a review, a critique, and an application of the book. A book report does not require an introduction or a conclusion.

The requirements regarding legibility, margins, indentations, numbering, formats, etc. are given in the following pages. Please follow those guidelines carefully in preparing your book reports.

Review the Book

This single page covers all the “who, what, where, when and why’s” of the book. This is where you are unbiased to the author and tell what happened in the book (briefly!). Avoid chapter-by-chapter reviews; instead discuss the book in blocks of chapters. Avoid emphasizing any one chapter—instead, briefly retell the book.

Critique the Book

No book ever written is perfect (except the Scriptures) and thus contains both strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, a fair analysis of a book discusses both its strengths and weaknesses in a balanced way.

Be sure to give specific examples of weakness. Avoid vague terms such as “I didn’t like the way the author wrote.” Give examples of style showing what you felt was their weakness. Such as:

*arguments used by author to prove their point
*their mishandling of Scripture
*the author jumps around and does not “carry” the reader along in thought or idea

Avoid stating that the book was “good” or “I liked it.” Again, be specific in your examples of the strengths:

*author writes clearly
*not over the heads of the readers
*gives a clear progression of arguments/ideas for their topic
*in fiction - the author paints “wonderful pictures in the mind of the reader” or draws the reader into the plot
*handles Scripture well

Application of the Book

This is your opportunity to discuss what new lessons you have learned from the book. Ask yourself these questions:

*How has this book impacted me?  Has it changed my worldview?
*What values have been re-enforced or called into question?
*What new insights have I had on a particular topic, passage of Scripture, etc.?

Use 12-point font size throughout your paper. Do not mix sizes and fonts!

Please use Times or Times New Roman

Always save a copy of your document on the computer hard drive as well as a CD, jump drive or external hard drive. This will safeguard your work in case either one fails.

Save all your files until for at least one year, for possible reference later. A CD, jump drive, Dropbox or external hard drives will hold it all and are good insurance.

Computer glitches are not necessarily grounds for an extension. Remember that computer problems are common, so plan to have your work done in advance so you have time to deal with issues that arise.

Begin at the Beginning of the Course

One of the best ways to learn course material is to study regularly and systematically, reviewing often and thinking about the information in the course. In conjunction with this, read and review the course objectives as you go along. It will help you understand what portions of the course are the most important. Make these your learning objectives as well.


It is best to review each study period’s material at least once before going on to the next study period. Scan the notes, highlighting key concepts, definitions, and other important information. After completing a chapter or section, again scan what you have already studied. Try to see the flow or connections between ideas. Review thoroughly once or twice a week before the exam. Some find it helpful to make up questions based on the material and then set aside the course and answer them. This method will help you discover weak areas that need more concentrated study.


Cramming may help you remember the odd date or name or fragment of information but is usually not recommended. The material will not be retained for future use. Also, altering normal eating, sleeping, and other patterns in order to cram, adds to the stress of writing exams. It is better to really learn the material as you take the course.

Test Day

Get enough sleep. Eat normal meals. Exercise lightly and RELAX. Bring whatever is needed, such as two pens or pencils, eraser, etc. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help you recall what you have learned.

Writing the Test

Read all instructions. Look at the number of questions and the marks allotted for each. If there are essays on the exam, make a mental note of the topics before beginning other questions.

Read each question thoroughly. Do not assume anything. Pay attention to keywords such as: always, never, only and or.

Answer all shorter questions you are sure about. Go back to the more difficult ones later. Sometimes other questions can trigger your mind to recall an answer that does not come immediately to mind when you first read the question. Often the correct answer can be found just by eliminating the incorrect answers and even if you’re not sure, most of the time a guess is better than no answer at all.

When writing essay answers, your ability to plan a research paper will be very helpful. Think of your main idea about the topic and support it with...“because” clauses. Leave space for an introduction and conclusion and add them when you have completed the body of the essay.

A quotation is a reference to an authority or a citation of an authority. There are two types of quotations: direct and indirect.

*A direct quotation uses the exact words of an authority and must be identified in your paper with quotation marks and documentation.
*An indirect quotation, or paraphrase, is a restatement of a thought expressed by someone else that is written in your own style that needs to be documented.

Know when to use quotations

*Use quotations when the specific language of a quote is important.
*Use quotations when accuracy is essential -- to indicate the writer's exact position.
*Use quotations to support your argument, rather than relying upon someone else's words.
*Keep quotes to a minimum. A short phrase or sentence is more easily understood than a long quotation.
*Look for the "kernel" or the most important part of the quotation and extract it.
*Paraphrase a quotation in your own words when possible.

Incorporating quotations into your paper

Combine a paraphrase with a quotation.

Original: Tania Modleski suggests that "if television is considered by some
to be a vast wasteland, soap operas are thought to be the least nourishing
spot in the desert."
Revised: In her critique of soap operas, Tania Modleski argues that some
view television as "a vast wasteland" and soap operas as "the least nourishing
spot in the desert.”

Introduce a quotation by citing the name of the authority.

Example: Thoreau believed that "a true patriot would resist a tyrannical majority".27

Describe or identify the source of information if it is available.

Example: In The Coming of Age, Simone de Beavoir contends that the
decrepitude accompanying old age is "in complete conflict with the manly
or womanly ideal cherished by the young and fully grown".28

Use key words from the quotation and make them a grammatical part of your sentence.

Example: As William Kneale suggests, some humans have a "moral deafness"
which is never punctured no matter what the moral treatment (Acton 93).

Note: Overusing quotations can result in "patchwork" writing, a jumble of miscellaneous information from various sources that is merely pieced together. Quotations should fit logically into your text.

Short Quotations

If your quotations are less than four lines long (which is usually the case), place them in your text and enclose them with quotation marks.

Remember to include a citation for each quotation used.

Example: Pearl, who is Hawthorne's symbol of truth, reaches a proportionately
happy conclusion, becoming "the richest heiress of her day, in the New World.”23
Example: Edward Zigler laments, "One finds violence, hostility, and aggression
everywhere, including TV, the movies, and in many of our everyday social relations.”24

Long Quotations

If a quotation is more than four lines long, set it off from your text by indenting.

Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a colon.

Bring in the margins 1/4 inch on each side, single space the lines, and do not use quotation marks.

Do not indent the opening line unless the quote begins a new paragraph.

Robert Hastrow sums up the process in the following passage, where he compares rays of light to a ball thrown up from the earth and returning because of the pull of gravity,

The tug of that enormous force prevents the ray of light from leaving the surface of the star; like the ball thrown upward from the earth, they are pulled back and cannot escape to space. All the light within the star is now trapped by gravity. From this moment on, the star is invisible. It is a black hole in space.

Final Reminders

Do not quote when a paraphrase will do.

Do not cite sources for information that is readily available in popular reference books:

*well-known dates and events
*identities of famous personalities and politicians
*familiar sayings

Always provide a context for your quotations—explain to the reader why and how the quote is relevant to the topic.

A paraphrase is an indirect quotation. It must be documented because it relates in your own words and style the thoughts you have borrowed from another person. Paraphrases are more flexible than quotations. They fit more smoothly into your text, and you can express your own interpretations as you paraphrase.

Paraphrasing is used for the following reasons:

*to restate a difficult passage the reader may not understand,
*to explain or interpret concepts or unfamiliar terms,
*or to make abstract facts and ideas concrete.

There are two ways to paraphrase:

Literal - Substitute the original words of each sentence with synonyms. You can use the process as a first step in drafting paraphrases. There are two objections to this form of paraphrasing: since you paraphrase sentence by sentence, your overall structure may be awkward; and you also run a greater risk of plagiarism. Therefore, you should use free paraphrasing for all of your final drafts.

Free - Use synonyms and rearrange the sentence structure. You can borrow the main ideas without necessarily keeping the same organization — you are now putting another person’s idea into your own words. This form of paraphrasing sounds more natural and is recommended.

The Original Quotation
"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal . . . ."
A Literal Paraphrase
Eighty-seven years before, our ancestors founded in North America a new country, thought of in freedom and based on the principle that all people are born with the same rights.
A Free Paraphrase
Our ancestors thought of freedom when they founded a new country in North America eighty-seven years ago. They based their thinking on the principle that all people are born with the same rights.

Final Hints

*Break long sentences into shorter ones, and combine short sentences for variety.
*Use a thesaurus for synonyms, but be careful of subtle changes in the meaning of words.
*Make sure your paraphrase considers the complete meaning of the original quotation.
*Be sure to cite original ideas that are not your own.

There are various ways to punctuate quotations, depending on their placement in the sentence, their purpose, and the purpose of the sentence. The key is to be consistent with your punctuation. This appendix highlights rules and examples that should help you when punctuating quotations within your papers.


Sometimes you may want to insert something into a quotation for clarification. Place any additional information within square brackets [ ].

*Author Elliot Would argues that, "They [Western doctors] are too intent on medicating and not intent enough on fixing them [ailments]."29

Single Quotation Marks

Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

*Dave Anderson believes that "there is no saying less true than 'it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.'"30

Block Quotations

When a quote is four lines or longer, it should be offset in a block. In a block quotation, no quotation marks are used with no space for a footnote.

There are various ways to punctuate quotations, depending on their placement in the sentence, their purpose, and the purpose of the sentence. The key is to be consistent with your punctuation. This page highlights rules and examples that should help you when punctuating quotations within your papers.31


The comma and period always go inside the closing quotation mark when there is a reference.

*"Really, there is no excuse for aggressive behavior," the supervisor said. "It sets a bad example."

The comma and period always go inside a quotation within another quotation when there is a reference.

*According to the film critic, "One of the most widely acclaimed actors in history, Humphrey Bogart, is quoted as saying, 'I don't like acting.'"32


The colon and semicolon always go outside the closing quotation mark.

*He referred to this group of people as his "gang": Heidi, Heather Shelley, and Jessie.
*Marx did not believe that "a single nation should have a single leader"; nevertheless, he became a leader singled out.


The ellipses, three spaced dots ( . . . ), indicates that part of a quotation has been left out. Ellipses are useful when you want to include only the most relevant words of a quotation; however, any omission must not distort the quotation's original meaning.

For omissions in the middle of a sentence, use an ellipses.

*The character of Sammy was soft-spoken, but he believed strongly in "respect for women, love of country . . . and a bright, sunny day.” 33

For omissions at the end of a sentence, use an ellipses followed by a period.

*According to Zephron Cochran, "Warp drive is a creation that will change multitudes of lives . . . ."34

Omissions immediately following an introductory statement do not need an ellipses.

*In Harris' book, one-to-one conferences are "one of the most important aspects of teaching.” 35

Exclamation Point/Question Mark

When the whole sentence except for the section enclosed in quotation marks is a question or exclamation, the question or exclamation mark goes outside the quotation mark.

*Which British author wrote, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls"?

When only the unit in quotation marks is a question or exclamation, the mark goes inside the closing quotation mark.

*The mediator asked, "What have you learned from this experience?"

When both the whole sentence and the unit enclosed in quotation marks are questions or exclamations, the question or exclamation mark goes inside the closing quotation mark.

*How important is it to know “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?”

apostrophe — When referring to years, an apostrophe is not used, e.g., 1700s, not 1700’s. 

accept/except — Accept is a verb meaning “to take” or “to agree”; except is usually a preposition meaning “excluding”; it can also be a verb meaning “to exclude.”

*Thank you, I accept your gift.
*He ate everything on his plate, except for the squash.  

a lot — A lot is two words. Do not write alot. 

all right — All right is two words. Do not write alright. 

affect; effect — Affect is almost always a verb, meaning “to influence.” Effect is almost always a noun meaning “result.”

*The music affected her mood.
*This drug has several side effects.

Rarely, affect is used as a noun; it is a psychological term for “feeling.”

*The patient displayed a lack of affect.

In the rare occasions when effect is used as a verb, it means “achieve or bring about.”

*Who could believe he would effect such a dramatic change? 

contractions — In academic writing some instructors request students avoid using contractions such as isn’t, or don’t. 

first person pronouns — In academic writing it is normal to avoid using the first person.  Consult individual faculty members for specific expectations. 

good, well — Good is an adjective, well is an adverb.

*They did a good job.
*She wrote well on the exam. 

irregardless — Irregardless is not standard. Use regardless. 

its; it’s — Its is a possessive pronoun; it’s is a contraction of it is or it has.

*The cat raised its fur when the dog walked by.
*It’s a beautiful day. 

numbers — “In scientific and statistical material, all numbers are expressed in numbers. In non-scientific material…spell out all numbers through one hundred and any of the whole numbers followed by hundred, thousand, hundred thousand, million, and so on. For all other numbers, numerals are used” (Turabian 1996, 2:29). For exceptions, see Turabian, 2:30-35. When numbering ordinals “second” and “third” add the “d” alone, i.e., 2d, 3d See Turabian, 2:30. 

percent vs. % — The word percent should be used, except when writing out scientific or statistical data.

This guide is not a stereotyped method that all schools are using. However, it does loosely follow Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, and it is suitable for the requirements of our school.

If, during the course of your study, you encounter a problem not covered by this guide, please feel free to consult Turabian’s manual for guidance, or speak to an instructor. Both are here to help!

At first glance, the student will find the guide difficult and perhaps intimidating. However, as a student you are encouraged not only to use this guide but also to apply all the given principles consistently.

At first the proper forms will be used mechanically, but time, discipline and determination will enable you to freely use the guide without repeated conscious effort.