Before you start on any particular question read it through very carefully, and make quite sure that you interpret the question correctly. Look for the ‘Key’ words in each question such as ‘Discuss’, ‘Summarise’, ‘Compare’, ‘Outline’ and make sure that you know exactly what the wording means.
Some of the terms which are frequently used in questions are listed below. Make sure that you are quite clear about the precise meaning of each of them.
|Compare||Look for similarities and differences between.|
|Contrast||Set in opposition in order to bring out the differences.|
|Criticise||Give your judgement about the merit of theories or opinions or about the truth of facts, and back your judgement by a discussion of the evidence.|
|Define||Set down the precise meaning of a word or phrase. Show that the distinctions implied in the definition are necessary.|
|Describe||Give a detailed or graphic account of|
|Discuss||Investigate or examine by argument, sift and debate, giving reasons pro and con|
|Evaluate||Make an appraisal of the worth of something, in the light of its truth or utility; include to a lesser degree, your personal opinion.|
|Explain||To make plain, to interpret, and to account for.|
|Illustrate||Use a figure or diagram to explain or clarify, or make clear by the use of concrete examples.|
|Interpret||Expound the meaning of; make clear and explicit; usually giving your own judgement also.|
|Justify||Show adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions.|
|Outline||Give the main features or general principles of a subject omitting minor details, and emphasizing structure and arrangement.|
|Relate||a) To narrate. More usually, in examinations.|
|b) Show how things are connected to each other, and to what extent they are alike, or affect each other.|
|Review||To make a survey of, examining the subject critically.|
|State||Present in brief, clear form.|
|Summarise||Give a concise account of the chief points or substance of a matter, omitting details and examples.|
|Trace||Follow the development or history of a topic from some point or origin|
* This list is adapted from that given by Bird, C. and Bird, D.M., Leaining More Effective Study, New York, Appleton-Century-Crifts, 1945, pp 195-198.
First used by Prof Jason Teoh in 16/11/1976 for MBBS IV (Class of 1973/78) teachings.