Revision and examinations
Revision and examinations

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Revision and examinations

3.8.2 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.

Activity 9

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.

Table 1

Process word Meaning
Account for Explain, clarify, give reasons for
Analyse
Assess
Compare
Contrast
Compare and contrast
Criticise
Define
Describe
Discuss
Distinguish / Differentiate between
Evaluate
Examine the argument that
Explain
How far / To what extent
Illustrate
Justify
Outline
State
Summarise
What arguments can be made for and against this view?

Discussion

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.

LDT101_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus