Revision and examinations
Revision and examinations

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Revision and examinations

3.8 Understanding process words

Table 2

Process word Meaning
Account for explain, clarify, give reasons for
Analyse resolve into its component parts examine critically or minutely
Assess determine the value of, weigh up (see also Evaluate)
Compare look for similarities and differences between examples perhaps reach conclusion about which is preferable and justify this clearly
Contrast set in opposition in order to bring out the differences sharply
Compare and contrast find some points of common ground between x and y and show where or how they differ
Criticise make a judgement backed by a discussion of the evidence of reasoning involved about the merit of theories or opinions or about the truth of assertions
Define state the exact meaning of a word or phrase, in some cases it may be necessary or desirable to examine different possible or often used definitions
Describe give a detailed account of
Discuss explain, then give two sides of the issue and any implications
Distinguish/Differentiate between look for differences between
Evaluate make an appraisal of the worth/validity/effectiveness of something in the light of its truth or usefulness (see also Assess)
Examine the argument that look in details at this line of argument
Explain give details about how and why something is so
How far / To what extent usually involves looking at evidence / arguments for and against and weighing them up
Illustrate make clear and explicit, usually requires the use of carefully chosen examples
Justify show adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions and answer the main objections likely to be made about them
Outline give the main features or general principles of a subject, omitting minor details and emphasising structure and arrangement
State present in a brief, clear form
Summarise give a concise, clear explanation or account of the topic, presenting the chief factors and omitting minor details and examples (see also Outline)
What arguments can be made for and against this view? look at both sides of this argument

Mathematicians use process words with slightly different meanings, as in Table 3.

Table 3

Process word Meaning
Write down, state, give write down without justification
Find, calculate, determine, explain, derive, solve, evaluate work out and show your working
Prove, show, deduce, explain you must justify each step and provide a convincing argument

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