Do’s and Don’ts of Passing a Tough Performance Assessment

Assessments are at the heart of your WGU program. Proving what you know is how you demonstrate your mastery of the course competencies, pass courses, move through your program, and earn your degree.

And it’s not meant to be easy.

So how does a WGU student tackle a really tough performance assessment—a paper, project, or presentation that calls on you to show what you know? Below are some of the do’s and don’ts of taking on a tough assessment and passing it—effectively, honestly, and ethically.


Do your research. Whatever the subject you are covering, there are resources available to help you learn it inside and out. The learning resources WGU gives you access to are, of course, among the best sources of information out there, so make the most of them. But don’t hesitate to look to other sources—articles, journals, books, authoritative and trusted websites—for additional insights and information. This is ultimately all about learning as much as you can, after all!

Do cite all your sources. As you do your research, be sure that your notes make clear where you got all your information. Give credit where credit is due. For any data or opinions that you got from anywhere outside your own brain. Always.

Do put your thoughts in your own words. Rewrite what you learn in your own words. Remember, your assessment is about showing what you’ve learned, not how well you can copy and paste. And when someone else just says it so well that you can’t avoid directly quoting them, put the full quote in quotation marks. And to reiterate: Cite your source!

Do rely on your course mentors. Remember that every WGU course has subject-matter experts on hand whose sole purpose is your success. Look to them for guidance every step of the way!

Do use the Center for Writing Excellence.If you’re having trouble converting what you’ve learned into well-written prose that avoids plagiarism and clearly communicates all your big ideas in your own words in a way that will leave the evaluation faculty saying “Wow!” the WGU Center for Writing Excellence is your best friend. Just like the course mentors, their reason for being is your success. They know writing inside and out, so make an appointment with them sooner rather than later; you’ll be glad you did.


Don’t spend a dime. Your assessment is meant to highlight your work, your knowledge, your understanding of the material. Buying papers from someone else is cheating, and you will very likely be caught (with very serious consequences for your standing at WGU). But paying for “tutoring” or other help can also be dangerous ground. If you have any doubt whether a source is valid, trustworthy, honest, or ethical, talk to your mentors or just avoid it altogether.

Don’t copy and paste. WGU takes plagiarism and academic dishonesty very seriously and does not tolerate any attempt to pass off someone else’s work as your own. Avoid the temptation to copy and paste or to use someone else’s work—or a close approximation of it—in your research and writing. This includes in your notes—you’re better off writing even your notes in your own words, a sure-fire way to prevent accidental or inadvertent plagiarism.

Don’t look to unreliable sources. Be careful that the sources you’re using are appropriate and trustworthy. Remember that work by other students is never considered an appropriate or reliable source for your academic work at WGU.

Don’t pass your work on to others. After you’ve passed a tough assessment, you may be tempted to share your work with other students. Avoid this temptation. Sharing your work on tutoring or homework sites puts you at risk of being part of another student’s unethical or dishonest behaviors, exposing not only other students to risk of discipline but yourself as well.

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