What is the examiner asking?

When answering an exam question, it is important to consider the question requirements carefully to make sure you understand exactly what is being asked. We highlight common question verbs used in exams

Actual meaning Key tips
AdviseTo offer guidance or some relevant expertise to a recipient, allowing them to make a more informed decision Counsel, inform or notify
AnalyseBreak into separate parts and discuss, examine, or interpret each part  Give reasons for the current situation or what has happened
ApplyTo put into action pertinently and/or relevantly  Properly apply the scenario/case
AssessTo judge the worth, importance, evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent, or significance  Determine the strengths, weaknesses, importance, significance, ability to contribute
CalculateTo ascertain by computation, to make an estimate of; evaluate, to perform a mathematical process  Provide description along with numerical calculations
CommentTo remark or express an opinion Your answer should include an explanation, illustration or criticism
CompareExamine two or more things to identify similarities and differences Clearly explain the resemblances or differences
ConclusionThe result or outcome of an act or process or event, final arrangement or settlement  End your answer well, with a clear decision
CriticisePresent the weaknesses/problems; evaluate comparative worth. Don’t explain the situation. Instead, analyse it  Criticism often involves analysis
DefineGive the meaning; usually a meaning specific to the course or subject Explain the exact meaning because usually definitions are short
DescribeGive a detailed account or key features. List characteristics, qualities and parts  Make a picture with words; identification is not sufficient
DiscussConsider and debate/argue about the pros and cons of an issue. Examine in detail by using arguments in favour or against Write about any conflict, compare and contrast
EvaluateDetermine the scenario in the light of the arguments for and against Mention evidence, case, point, issue to support evaluation
ExplainMake an idea clear. Show logically how a concept is developed. Give the reason for an event  Don’t just provide a list of points, add in some explanation of the points you’re discussing
IllustrateGive concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples Add in some description
InterpretComment on, give examples, describe relationships  Include explanation and evaluation
ListList several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc  Don’t discuss, just make a list
OutlineDescribe main ideas, characteristics, or events  Briefly explain the highlighted points
RecommendAdvise the appropriate actions to pursue in terms the recipient will understand Give advice or counsel
RelateShow the connections between ideas or events  Relate to real time examples
StateExplain precisely Focus on the exact point
SummariseGive a brief, condensed account. Include conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details Remember to conclude your explanation