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Understanding command words in exam questions

Level:
AS, A-Level
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

It is important to be aware and to understand what each command word in a question is asking you - here is a summary

Argue: This term appears often in essay questions and requires you to examine, analyse carefully and present considerations for and against items involved.

Discuss: Give reasons or present facts for and against an issue; try to provide by giving reasons or evidence for and against.

Explain: Present in brief, clear form.

State: Clarify and interpret the material you present. State the ‘how’ and ‘why’, the results, and where possible causes.

Define: Give concise, clear meanings.

Assess: Express the meaning of, translate, exemplify (give examples of), solve, or comment upon the subject. Usually you will give your judgement or reaction to the problem, but always make use of evidence.

Evaluate: Give reasons or present facts for and against an issue; try to provide by giving reasons or evidence for and against.

Interpret: Make a careful judgement of the worth of something (e.g

Remember that during the exam, in your writing you should take particular care with your spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as the clarity of expression

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