The IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management (IEMA CEM) is assessed by three end of module assignments. They cover various topics related to the course material in the three modules of the course. The assignments are marked by the training providers rather than the IEMA and as such I have marked many of these over the years. Completing the first assignment can be daunting and there is certainly a learning curve as to what to provide and how. To enable you to gain a good mark on your first assignment (and future assignments) I thought we could take a look at some basic tips to help you. I have noticed a lot of these issues in marking the IEMA CEM assignments over the years.
Tip 1: Keep to the maximum word count
On the assignment question sheet there is a word count. You must keep to the word count. There is no leeway unlike other course’s assessments. If the word count is, let’s say 700 words then you must not go over this by any amount. Unfortunately, if you do exceed the maximum word count by any amount the assessor, according to IEMA marking guidance, is required to remove marks depending on how much your assignment is over. For example, if you are 30% over the word count then you will receive zero marks.
Always state the amount of words you have used at the end of every answer as it is not always straightforward for the assessor to determine this, particularly if you have submitted your assignment as a pdf.
Tip 2: Provide the correct amount of detail
Let’s say that you submit an answer of 400 words and the maximum word count is 1000 words (so 600 words less than the maximum word count) then this means that even if you have submitted correct and relevant information in your answer, it is unlikely to be of sufficient detail. Quality is always better than quantity but even so your answer should be somewhere near the maximum word count for the question.
Tip 3: Follow the IEMA Guidance
The IEMA Guidance publication ‘End of Module Assignments Guidance for Delegates’ provides a lot of information on what is expected of your assignments and how they should be presented. This should be available from your training provider (for RRC students it is available on the Learning Centre homepage for the course). Read it numerous times before you start your first assignment (or any of the assignments for that matter). In particular you will find marking criteria for each question, covering a range of marks that should be given for information that is provided in the assignment answer. Valuable information in helping you gain a good mark, I bet you don’t disagree!
Tip 4: Reference your sources
If you provide information from the internet, a publication or other source then you must reference it in your answer. Ideally, this should be direct referencing. This is good practice and gives credit to the person(s) who have developed the information. It also allows the reader to find out more about the example you reference. There are many ways to reference information you can use whatever means you like, however good practice dictates that a recognised system, such as the Harvard one, could be used.
Tip 5: Properly read and analyse the questions
I have lost count of the number of times that an answer is provided that is not directly related to the question. A common mistake is to read a question and then start to answer it. You should take your time to analyse the question by highlighting key words. You can sometimes use parts of the question to structure your answer, for example they may take the form of subheadings or at least discrete paragraphs. Make sure you answer everything that the question requires, not just specific parts. It is a good idea prior to answering the question that you develop an outline plan.
Answering the IEMA CEM assignment question for the first time can be daunting. However if you follow the top five tips, and read the IEMA guidance for other ideas, you should be able to achieve a good mark.
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MIEMA
John Binns BSc (Hons) MSc MIEMA is an experienced environmental tutor and consultant.