Analysing and answering essay-based exam questions
For the following activity, you can use questions from a specimen paper, past papers or even questions you have devised for yourself.
Exam questions for essay-based courses often contain ‘process words’. These require you to organise what you know about a topic in a particular way. The mark you obtain for your answer will, to a large degree, reflect your success in interpreting the instruction contained within the question’s process words.
Using Table 1, check out your understanding of a selection of ‘process words’. These are frequently found in essay-based exam questions. Note down what you think each word means. The meaning of the first process word is filled in as an example.
|Account for||Explain, clarify, give reasons for|
|Compare and contrast|
|Distinguish / Differentiate between|
|Examine the argument that|
|How far / To what extent|
|What arguments can be made for and against this view?|
When you have completed the table, have a look at Table 2 in the next section on ‘Process words’. This shows a completed version of the table. You can use it to compare with your answers.