Examination Command words | Dyslexia UK

Examination Command words

May 8, 2023 Keir Williams Comments Off

Exam command words are the key to answering exam questions successfully. Whilst the content / topic part of the question will tell you what you need to write about, the command word will tell you how you need to answer the question. Command words are the words and phrases used in exams and other assessment tasks that tell you how they should answer the question. Many of them are the same across all subjects and require a similar response, even if the subject is different.

Below are the most common exam command words.

Command Word
What they mean
Add/LabelShow information or name something on a graph, diagram or table.
what is meant by
Recall one or more pieces of information.
DrawProduce a diagram with or without a ruler. Simple line diagrams for scientific equipment and circuit symbols for a circuit diagram.
WriteWhen the questions ask for an equation e.g. a balanced symbol equation.
SketchProduce a drawing without a ruler e.g. sketch a rough graph with axes and a line.
Complete Add values to a table or diagram.
EstimateFind a rough number or amount from the information given in the question.
Identify Choose key details from information given in the question.
CalculateWork out your answer using the numbers in the question. Include units in your answer.
Show thatProve the statement in the question is right.
DetermineUse information in the question and give a numerical answer or show how the answer can be reached quantitatively.
DeduceCome to a decision based on information in the question.
Give a reasonSay why something happens; only write the number of reasons the question asks for.
DescribeGive an account of something, or link facts, information, events or processes in a logical order.
ExplainSay how or why something happens; ‘because’ will be an important part of your answer.
State and explain Make a point and link ideas to justify that point.
Comment on Look at data or information and decide what it shows.
Compare and contrastGive similarities and differences between several things, not just one.
PredictSay what you think will happen based on what you know.
DiscussPick out the situation or argument in the question, explore all aspects of it, investigate it and come to a conclusion.
JustifyGive evidence to support an answer.
AccessRead the information in the question carefully and pick out the most important parts to help you answer the question or come to a conclusion.
EvaluateLook at the information in the question and bring it together to make a decision and come to a conclusion with evidence from the question. To evaluate you should give: reasoned arguments in support of this statement; reasoned arguments to support a different point of view; refer to evidence; reach a justified conclusion.
DevisePlan a method or experiment using your knowledge.
Suggest. Always used with another command word, e.g. Suggest an explanation. Suggest tells you that you need to apply your knowledge to a new situation, and in this case to give a possible explanation.

For more on revision and memory techniques, check out these blogs:


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