|What you have to do
|Take apart an idea, concept or statement and examine and criticise its sub-parts in detail. You have to be methodical and logical.
|Describe a topic’s positive and negative aspects and say how useful or successful it is, or consider its contribution to knowledge, events or processes (this is usually about how important something is).
|Point out a topic’s mistakes or weaknesses as well as its favourable aspects. Give a balanced answer (this will involve some analysis first).
|Put items side by side to see their similarities and differences – a balanced (objective) answer is required.
|Emphasise the differences between two things.
|Give the meaning of an idea, either a dictionary definition or from an academic authority in your subject of study (technical definition).
|Give details of processes, properties, events and so on.
|Describe, explain, give examples, points for and against, then analyse and evaluate the results.
|Similar to discuss, but with more emphasis on a judgement in the conclusion.
|Take apart and describe a concept in great detail.
|Give detailed reasons for an idea, principle or result, situation, attitude and so on. You may need to give some analysis as well.
|Give concrete examples – including figures or diagrams. Illustrate is usually added on to another instruction.
|Explain and comment on the subject and make a judgement (evaluation).
|Give reasons to support a statement – it may be a negative statement, so be careful!
|Provide an itemised series of parts, reasons or qualities, possibly in a table.
|Provide evidence for or against and demonstrate logical argument and reasoning – you often have to do this for abstract or scientific subjects.
|Emphasise the links, connections and associations, probably with some analysis.
|Analyse and comment briefly, in organised sequences – sentences, paragraphs or lists – on the main aspects of a subject.
|Give the relevant points briefly – you don’t need to make a lengthy discussion or give minor details.
|Give possible reasons – analyse, interpret and evaluate. (This is also the verb most commonly used to quote another author.)
|Summarise or outline
|Just give the main points, not the details.
|Give a brief description of the logical or chronological stages of the development of a theory, process, a person’s life and so on. Often used in historical questions.