Common Terms Used on Exam Questions

PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION

Do these words look familiar?  Have you seen them on tests before?  Use these terms when creating summary questions from your lecture notes and readings.

 

Agree,

     Disagree

Take a definite stand; state an opinion on the question on an issue or statement contained in the question.  Explain persuasively, and in some detail, why you agree or disagree.

 

Analyze

Break down a topic into its parts and discuss the relationships that exist between the whole (topic) and the parts.  Be specific.

 

Compare,

     Contrast

Show, in detail, the similarities, the differences, or the similarities and the differences between the two topics stated in the question.

 

Define

Give the exact meaning of a word, phrase or concept.  Be specific; use details and give examples.

 

Describe,

     Discuss

Explain, in detail, what the question asks about the topic.  Provide all the pertinent information you can about the topic, using examples to illustrate your statements.

 

Evaluate

Make a judgment on the topic in question based on the information at hand and your own values and experiences.

 

Explain

Examine the topic in question based on the information at hand and your own values and experiences.

 

Identify

Mention the two or three most important facts about a person or subject area.  Watch for directions that ask you to identify and explain briefly.  These require more than a few facts.

 

Illustrate

Provide five concrete examples to clarify or explain a general statement.

 

Outline

Organize the main points and give supporting statements or details.

 

Prove

Through support and/or illustration, show why the statement is correct.  Use persuasion, logic and reason.

 

Summarize

Give an overview of the subject.

 

Trace

Describe the steps or process that brought some event to pass.

 

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