How to answer exam questions correctly
When a learner understands what the examiner is asking them, they’ll be able to answer the questions in an exam paper correctly. To understand what the examiner is asking, the learner must identify the question and focus words in an exam question.
It is important for learners to look for and understand the question words (the words that tell you what to do, also known as key action words) to correctly understand what the examiner is asking.
Once the learner has read the question once, they should circle the question word and then underline any other important focus words (the words that tell you what content to include in your answer). The combination of the circled and underlined words will tell the learner exactly what is being asked.
Share these explanations with your learners so they can use it as a guide to help them answer questions.
|QUESTION WORD||WHAT YOU NEED TO DO|
|Analyse||Separate, examine and interpret the concept|
|Argue||Give arguments to support your statement or to oppose somebody else’s statement, and substantiate your argument with an example|
|Assess||Give a judgement and back it up with evidence or reasoning|
|Calculate||This means a numerical (number) answer is required. You must show your working, especially where two or more steps are involved|
|Classify||Group things based on common characteristics|
|Compare||Point out or show both similarities and differences between things or concepts|
|Critically evaluate||Describe both sides of an argument, come to a conclusion and justify your decision|
|Debate||State the positive or negative side of an argument, and substantiate your point with an example|
|Define||Give a clear meaning of the concept|
|Describe||State in words (using diagrams where appropriate) the main points of a structure/process/phenomenon/investigation|
|Determine||To calculate something, or to discover the answer by examining evidence|
|Differentiate||Use differences to qualify categories|
|Explain/ Discuss||Give a clear, detailed description of the focus topic|
|Identify||Name the essential characteristics|
|Illustrate||Give examples to demonstrate or prove something|
|Justify||Give clear, detailed reasons fo taking a particular position|
|Label||Identify on a diagram or drawing|
|List||Write a list of items, with no additional detail|
|Mention||Refer to relevant points|
|Name||Give the name (proper noun) of something|
|State/Give||Write down information without discussion|
|Recommend / Suggest||Give your opinion and back it up with facts, reason or an explanation|
|Tabulate||Draw a table and indicate the answers as direct pairs|