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Revision and examinations
Revision and examinations

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3.8 Understanding process words

Table 2
Process word Meaning
Account forexplain, clarify, give reasons for
Analyseresolve into its component parts examine critically or minutely
Assessdetermine the value of, weigh up (see also Evaluate)
Comparelook for similarities and differences between examples perhaps reach conclusion about which is preferable and justify this clearly
Contrastset in opposition in order to bring out the differences sharply
Compare and contrastfind some points of common ground between x and y and show where or how they differ
Criticisemake 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
Definestate 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
Describegive a detailed account of
Discussexplain, then give two sides of the issue and any implications
Distinguish/Differentiate betweenlook for differences between
Evaluatemake an appraisal of the worth/validity/effectiveness of something in the light of its truth or usefulness (see also Assess)
Examine the argument thatlook in details at this line of argument
Explaingive details about how and why something is so
How far / To what extentusually involves looking at evidence / arguments for and against and weighing them up
Illustratemake clear and explicit, usually requires the use of carefully chosen examples
Justifyshow adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions and answer the main objections likely to be made about them
Outlinegive the main features or general principles of a subject, omitting minor details and emphasising structure and arrangement
Statepresent in a brief, clear form
Summarisegive 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 wordMeaning
Write down, state, givewrite down without justification
Find, calculate, determine, explain, derive, solve, evaluatework out and show your working
Prove, show, deduce, explainyou must justify each step and provide a convincing argument