Baffled by the ‘direction words’ used in exam questions? If the answer is yes, then maybe this is for you.

Term What the examiner means
ACCOUNT Explain, clarify, give reason for.
ANALYSE Explain step by step or point by point. Pay attention to who , what, where, when, why and how. May include strengths, weaknesses, pro/cons, research for/against or causes/effects. A conclusion helps clarify major points in analyses.
ASSESS Determine the value of, weigh up (see also evaluate)
COMPARE AND CONTRAST Point out similarities and differences between objects, concepts or ideas, perhaps reach conclusions about.
COMPARE Find some points of common ground, between x and x and show where or how they are different.
CRITICISE OR CRITIC make a judgement about the merit or demerit of theories or opinions or about the truth or falsity of.
DESCRIBE Give a detailed account of ..
DIAGRAM Provide a chart map or sketch, drawing with accompanying explanation or description.
DISCUSS Explain, then give two or more sides of the issue and any implications.
DISTINGUISH Point out differences and similarities.
EVALUATE Emphasise positive/negative aspects of a topic. Include opinions and support these with evidence.
EXAMINE THE ARGUMENT THAT Look into the details about how and why…
EXAMPLES Use brief stories, analogies, relevant information
HOW FAR To what extent
ILLUSTRATE Make clear and explicit, usually requires the use of carefully chosen examples.
INTERPRET Translate, make a comment upon based on your existing understanding of the topic.
JUSTIFY Present the reason for, using proof and research examples, ending with a conclusion.
LIST Write down major points in some form of order.
OUTLINE Give the main features or general principles of a topic
PROVE Include factual evidence, research, and logical arguments to support a case or viewpoint.
RELATE Present connections and relationships between the topics under discussion.
REVIEW Cover the main points of the topic under discussion.
STATE Present in a brief and clear form.
SUMMARISE Give a short and clear explanation or account of the main areas of the topic under discussion.
TRACE Present the answer following a sequence or order or logical step by step process.

Mathematician and mathematical science’s use some of the terms with slightly different meanings.

WRITE DOWN ] means ‘write down without justification’
FIND ] means ‘that you are required to show your workings’
PROVE ] means ‘you must justify each step and provide a convincing argument for explanation’