Assignment direction words

Text version

Assignment direction words

Below is an explanation of the key words commonly used in assignment questions.

These explanations are intended as a guide only. There are not always hard distinctions between the words, and different academics may use them to mean slightly different things.

ANALYSEIdentify the elements of an argument, text, issue, process or event and show how they are related.
ARGUEPresent the case for and/or against a particular proposition.
COMMENT ONPoint out the important features, criticise.
COMPAREIdentify and explain similarities and differences.
CONTRASTStress the differences between two or more things.
CRITICISEJudge the merit or truth of the factors or views mentioned, including both strengths and weaknesses.
CRITICALLY…Used to add direction to another direction word (e.g. “critically analyse”), this means approaching the task in a questioning way: “How does this work?” “Why is it like this?” “What are its strengths and weaknesses?”
DEFINEProvide concise, clear, and authoritative meanings. Give the limits of the definition, but omit detailed explanations. Show how the item defined differs from items in other classes.
DESCRIBERecount, characterise, outline, and relate in sequence.
DIAGRAMA drawing, chart, plan, or graph. Diagrams should be labelled and there should be an accompanying explanation.
DISCUSSExamine, analyse carefully, and give reasons for and against. Be complete and give details, usually with a view to assessing how satisfactory something is.
EVALUATEAppraise in relation to some standard, referring to advantages, limitations, and costs and benefits as Appropriate.
EXAMINEInvestigate critically, appraise a subject in detail.
EXPLAINClarify, interpret, and elaborate on the material presented. Give reasons for differences of opinion or results, and try to analyse causes.
ILLUSTRATEUse a concrete example, diagram, or figure to explain or clarify a problem.
INDICATEIdentify, then focus attention so as to clarify.
JUSTIFYProve or give reasons for conclusions or decisions.
OUTLINEPresent the essential features, showing main points and subordinate points. Omit minor details.
REVIEWExamine a subject critically, analysing and commenting on the important or controversial statements.
STATEPresent the main points in a brief and clear sequence, usually omitting details or examples.
SUMMARISEGive the main points or facts in condensed form.