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Exams

Understanding keywords

You should always think carefully about the key words within a question. Below is a table which may help you. Of course, the context of a question and your common sense need to be exercised here. This is merely a guide to help you think about what is required of you when looking at the question itself.

 

Key Word

Skills you need to demonstrate

 

 

Define

Identify the central qualities of something and determine its meaning

Describe

Using detail and examples to outline the key characteristics.

Illustrate

Make an issue or concept clear using examples (often this does not require you to draw something)

Explain

To provide detail that makes an issue or concept clear. To interpret information and determine its meaning.

Compare and contrast

Identify the similarities and differences between two objects/issues/concepts

Apply

To make a theory relevant and suitable within a chosen example. To put a concept into action.

Advantages and Disadvantages

To look at the beneficial and negative outcomes of something

Analyse

To separate an abstract concept and critically determine its elements, features and possible outcomes.

Examine

To scrutinize and investigate an issue or concept carefully.

Identify

To recognise the main features of an issue, object or concept

Discuss

To consider and examine via argument

Predict

Use a variety of factors to determine a possible future outcome

Comment

Observations, expansions, criticisms and thoughts, premised on knowledge about a particular issue or concept

Assess

To determine the effect, results or reasons for something

Consider

To reflect on an event or piece of information leading towards the proposal of a solution

Differentiate

To recognise the unique features and characteristics of an issue, concept or object and to establish how it is different from something else.