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Command Words: Main

Command words appear in an assessment task and can also be called instructional, operational or task words. They tell students how the question should be answered.

Level 1: Knowledge & Comprehension [Finding out & understanding]

Level 2: Application & Analysis [Making use of knowledge & taking apart the known]

Level 3: Synthesis & Evaluation [Putting things together differently & judging outcomes]

Level 1

Skills observed & verbs to use for Lvl 1: Knowledge

Level 1

Skills observed & verbs to use for Lvl 1: Comprehension

Discipline Terms +
Description +
Detail for command term 

 

Level 2

Skills observed & verbs to use for Lvl 2: Application

Discipline Terms +
Description +
Detail for command term

Level 2

Skills observed & verbs to use for Lvl 2: Analysis 

Discipline Terms +
Description +
Detail for command term +
Positives & Negatives

Level 3

Skills observed & verbs to use for Lvl 3: Synthesis & Evaluation

Discipline Terms +
Description +
Detail for command term +
Positives & Negatives +
Evidence from learning and research +
Conclusions/Opinions

Identify: Provide an answer from a number of possibilities.

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E.G., Identify two changes – social, political or environmental.

[HINT: Pick out a relevant detail; usually a short answer, with few marks attached].

 

State: Tell. Give a specific name, value or other brief answer without explanation or calculation.

 

 

Question stems & sentence examples using Lvl 1: Knowledge category verbs 

Outline: Give a brief account or summary.

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[HINT: Brief listing of key features; usually few points attached; requires 1 or 2 sentences; needs start to finish, tell the story, provide overview so that a general knowledge is conveyed].

 

Define: Give the precise meaning of a word, phrase, concept, or physical quantity.

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E.G., Define Medicare

[HINT: According to subject, may need to be dictionary definition or paraphrased - needs to contain all the key elements of the definition in either case].

 

Describe: To give an account of, description and provide examples.

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[HINT: List key features, get to the essence of the content; Does not require evaluation or analysis of issues so don’t get into the issues - stay factual].

 

Question stems & sentence examples using Lvl 1: Comprehension category verbs

Explain: Give a detailed account including reasons or causes. To make clear or to show the meaning. To account for something.

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[HINT: More or less the same as describe; maybe is more about depth than breadth; apply the idea to a context].

 

Distinguish: Make clear the differences between two or more concepts or items.

Contrast: Give an account of the differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout. To evaluate the degree of difference between two or more ideas.

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[HINT: Almost always used with compare, but sometimes on its own; find differences].

 

Compare: Give an account of the similarities between the two (or more) items or scenarios, referring to both (all) of them throughout.

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[HINT: Find similarities].

 

Construct: Display information in a diagrammatic of logical form. Make something. Develop and produce and idea or product etc.

 

Question stems & sentence examples using Lvl 2: Application category verbs

Analyse: Break down in order to bring out essential elements or structure. Examine methodically and in detail. Use data to reach a conclusion. 

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E.G., Analyse the results of this experiment; Analyse each statement to decide whether it is fact or opinion. [HINT:: Pull out the elements and examine; does not always need an evaluation]

 

Annotate: To make analytical, explanatory or critical notes on something.

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E.G., Annotate the playscript to explore the shifts in status that occur within the scene for a given character.

Annotate a graph showing hormone levels in the menstrual cycle.

[HINT: More than ‘just a label’ – causes or explanations must be given; used as a learning tool to understand metalanguage and explore its use].

 

Question stems & sentence examples using Lvl 2: Analysis category verbs

Discuss: Offer a considered and balanced review that includes a range of arguments, factors or hypotheses. Opinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.

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E.G., Discuss how the introduction of an employee share-ownership scheme could affect motivation for employees of company X.

[HINT: Get into the issue, show that it’s arguable; sometimes discuss means describe – make sure you cover elements as you would

 

To What Extent: Consider the merits or otherwise of an argument or concept. Opinions and conclusions should be presented clearly and supported with appropriate evidence and sound argument.

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[HINT: Often used with the terms Agree/Disagree].

 

Evaluate: Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations. To determine the strength, quality, adaptability, relevance, etc of the idea, argument or situation.

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[HINT: Weigh up arguments, need to come to a conclusion; never wind up with a 50/50 answer on evaluate].

 

Justify: Give valid reasons or evidence to support an answer or conclusion. Provide evidence to support or defend a choice, decision, strategy or course of action.

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E.G., Justify your reasons for introducing an extension strategy for product X.

 

Formulate: Express precisely and systematically the relevant concept(s) or argument(s).

 

Question stems & sentence examples using Lvl 3: Synthesis & Evaluation category verbs