Ultimate Guide to Exam Survival – Part 3

Welcome to the last of our exam survival guide posts for this year, we hope that these have been useful so far. The end is in sight now, you’re allowed to start thinking about end of year parties and of course, getting your hands on your school yearbook!

The words below are often used in exams such as GCSE to ask questions or to tell you what to do. Most of these words are verbs; other parts of speech have been marked. It is important to know the spelling and understand the meanings of these words. Learn the spelling and meaning of these words and find them in your practice exam questions. Highlight these words during your practice exams to help you understand the questions.

analyse Describe the main ideas, show how they are connected to each other and why they are important.

assess Find the weak points and the strong points of the subject in the question.

average (Noun) the middle: in maths, the average (mean) is found by adding all the numbers together and dividing them by the amount of numbers added, e.g. 26 + 15 + 17 + 6 = 64 / 4 = 16.

calculate Find the answer to a problem, usually in maths, using arithmetic or a calculator.

comment on Say what you think about the subject.

compare Write about similarities and differences in the subjects.

contrast Show how the subjects are different.

criticise Say what you think about the subject, giving your views for and against and backing them up with facts and theories.

define Give the meaning. Give an example, if you know one, and if you have memorised the definition, then write it down.

describe Give a detailed account of.

diagram (Noun) a drawing, chart or graph.

differentiate Say clearly the differences.

discuss Describe the subject in detail and, if there are two sides to the question, give the points for and against.

distinguish This word is usually followed by ‘between’; say clearly what makes the difference between the subjects.

enumerate List the main ideas by name and number.

essential (Adjective) most important, must be there.

evaluate Say what you think about the subject, giving the good and bad points.

evidence (Noun) facts; proof to back up your answer.

examine Write what you have to say for and against a subject, say which side you support and give reasons for your support.

explain Give the reasons for something.

explore Look into thoroughly and consider from a variety of viewpoints.

express Often found in maths exams; say in a different way, e.g. express as a fraction.

illustrate Use examples to make a point clear.

interpret Give the meaning in your own words using examples, where necessary, to make the meaning clear.

justify Say why you think that the answer is what it is and give reasons for why it is that way.

option (Noun) a choice.

outline Write about the main ideas; do not go into detail.

pictorial (Adjective) in a picture.

prove Show that the answer is true by giving the steps needed to reach it.

purpose (Noun) the reason why.

relate Show how things connect; they may be very similar or one may make another act in a certain way.

requirement (Noun) something which must be done.

review Give an overall view of the important parts of the subject and give your views backed up by facts when necessary.

state Write the main points in a brief, clear way.

suggest Often found in geography exams; using all that you have learned, say what the answer might be.

summarise Bring together the main points and write about them in a brief, clear way.

trace Write about the history of a subject starting at the beginning and following it to the end.

If you have your own tried and tested exam and revision techniques, we’d love to hear them. Tweet us @SPCYearbooks using #exams.


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