Compare, Contrast, List, Suggest – understand the question words used in exams

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With so much to do and so little time, it’s really important that you know what you are being asked in a junior or leaving cert question. Looking at the marks being awarded as well as understanding the meaning of the words used in questions is really important. Here are a few of the most common ones used. 

Know the meaning of the question words...

List Just give the key words, no need to write long sentences

Name Simple answer, no need to write any explanation

Compare this means you should give the similarities and the differences between two things

Contrast This means you need to only list the differences between two things

Outline Give the main points, It's the same as "explain briefly"

with the aid of a diagram this means there are marks going for your diagram

Give an illustrated account is another way of saying a diagram is expected

Describe This means give a fuller, longer answer

Explain Again this means you need to give a fuller, longer answer with several points. Look at the marks being awarded to get an idea how long your answer should be.

Plurals Keep an eye out for plurals as this will give you an idea of how much information is required. “Give a reason for…” and “Give reasons for…” are different questions.

And Lots of students go wrong here. The word “and” in a question means there are marks going for the part before the “and” as well as after the “and”. Many students lose marks by only answering the second part of the question. e.g. Give examples of how wave action creates and destroys our coastlines.

                         

Best of luck with the study!

 

 
     

 

 


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