Demystifying Exam Vocabulary: A Guide to Key Terminology

Confused by the vocabulary and terminology used in exam questions? This guide provides a comprehensive list of common terms and their meanings, helping you better understand what is being asked of you and improve your exam performance.

Question wordWhat is required of you
Account forExplain the process or reason why something is the way it is
AnalysePay attention to detailsPretend you are a detective and break the material into partsExplain how each part fits into the wholeWrite the obvious as well as the hidden characteristics or meanings
ArgueGive your personal point of view – facts, beliefs, opinions
CalculateUse figures to work out your answer
ClassifyDivide into groups or types so that things that are similar, are in the same group
CommentDiscuss, criticise or explain
ComparePoint out or show both similarities or differencesGive common characteristics/attributes – how are people, events, concepts or objects alike/ similar
ConjectureGuess, estimate, infer
ContrastGive characteristics or attributes about how people, events, concepts or objects are different
DeduceDraw conclusions
DefineGive meanings in your own words
DemonstrateWrite how to do something step-by-step
DescribeExplain so the reader can visualise/understand the object, concept or eventsUse adjectives to show size, shape, characteristics, colour and use
DiscussWrite/talk as if you were sharing your knowledge with someone elseUse details and examples to explain the topic
EffectAs in what effect? It is the consequence/result of an action
EvaluateIn an evaluation question you are expected to present a careful appraisal of the problem stressing both advantages and limitationsExpress an opinion based on your findings
ExplainMake it clear and simple to show your interpretation and understandingGive simple descriptions based on what you knowDescribe, giving reasons
ExtractChoose relevant details
FactorsGive reasons, features, causes, influences
ForecastSay what you think will happen in the future
Give a reasonGive examples to explain why something is the way it is
Give/ provideWrite down only facts
HypothesisAn opinion/theory/assumption to be proved
IndicatePoint out, make something known
IdentifyName the essential characteristics
InferRead between the lines – the answer is not in the passageYou make meaning from information or clues the author provides
InterpretGive your opinion of the information based on your experiences and information you find in the text
JustifyGive evidence to support your point of view
ListWrite a list of items
MentionRefer to relevant points
MotivateGive reasons and explain your answer
NameState something – give, identify or mention
OutlineOrganise important data/information in a logical wayUse numbers or letters to organise the information sequentially
PlotOrganise your thoughts and write on a piece of paperUse a grid, graphic design, picture, chart, or matrix
PredictMake a suggestion based on the information available of what the outcome would be
ProveGive evidence, facts which explains why an argument is true
SketchDraw a rough outline, plan or picture to explain or show something
StateExplain important information clearlyGive reasons and examples if necessary
SuggestOffer an explanation or solution
SummarizeGive the meaning in as few words as possibleRetell the most important facts and essential details in as few words as you can
Support your answerGive examples, reasons or an explanation
TracePut events, experiences or thoughts in order or on a timeline