A report is written for a clear purpose and to a particular audience. Specific information and evidence are presented, analysed and applied to a particular problem or issue. The information is presented in a clearly structured format, making use of sections and headings so that the information is easy to locate and follow.

When students are asked to write a report they will be given a report brief which provides instructions and guidelines. The report brief may outline the purpose, audience and problem or issue that the report must address, together with any specific requirements for format or structure.

Two of the reasons why reports are used as forms of written assessment are:

  • to find out what students have learned from their reading, research or experience
  • to give students experience of an important skill that is widely used in the work place.

An effective report presents and analyses facts and evidence that are relevant to the specific problem or issue of the report brief. All sources used should be acknowledged and referenced throughout. The style of writing in a report is usually less discursive than in an essay, with a more direct and economic use of language.

A well-written report will demonstrate a student’s ability to:

  • understand the purpose of the report brief and adhere to its specifications
  • gather, evaluate and analyse relevant information
  • structure material in a logical and coherent order
  • present the report in a consistent manner according to the instructions of the report brief
  • make appropriate conclusions that are supported by the evidence and analysis of the report
  • make thoughtful and practical recommendations where required