A lot of students can remember the material but end up running into trouble because they do not really know how to answer short-answer questions on the exam. Here are a list of action words to look out for hidden in the question and how to answer them:
- Describe: This means to tell or depict in writing.
- List: List items or facts – no explanations required.
- Compare: Indicate the characteristics of 2 or more items and point out their differences and similarities
- Contrast: Point out the differences.
- Define: State the meaning – be clear and concise!
- Explain: Give an explanation, DO NOT simply define the terms.
- Identify: State items or fact and GIVE EXAMPLES.
- Illustrate: Give examples that make the concept clear to the examiner.
- Justify: Give a good reason for your decisions/conclusions.