Question keywords are also called ‘command’ words. These are the words in your exam questions that tell you what the examiner wants you to do. By understanding these command words, you are on your way to understanding your exam questions.

For example, you may be instructed in your exam question to ‘describe’ something within your answer. If your answer ‘evaluates’ rather than ‘sets out the characteristics’, you potentially haven’t given the right answer.

Below you will find a list containing some of these command words. Some subjects may have more or different command words that aren’t shown here. Ask your teachers for subject specific information.

Analyse separate information into components and identify their characteristics
Apply put into effect in a recognised way
Argue present a reasoned case
Assess make an informed judgement
Calculate work out the value of something
Comment present an informed opinion
Compare identify similarities
Complete finish a task by adding to given information
Consider review and respond to given information
Contrast identify differences
Criticise assess worth against explicit expectations
Debate present different perspectives on an issue
Deduce draw conclusions from information provided
Define specify meaning
Describe set out characteristics
Develop take forward or build upon given information
Discuss present key points
Estimate assign an approximate value
Evaluate judge from available evidence
Examine investigate closely
Explain set out purposes or reasons
Explore investigate without preconceptions about the outcome
Give produce an answer from recall
Identify name or otherwise characterise
Illustrate present clarifying examples
Interpret translate information into recognisable form
Justify support a case with evidence
Outline set out main characteristics
Prove demonstrate validity on the basis of evidence
Relate demonstrate connections between items
Review survey information
State express in clear terms
Suggest present a possible case
Summarise present principal points without detail