Get into the habit of underlining or highlighting these words when you first read an exam question. This will help you to focus on exactly what it is that the examiner is looking for and will help you to appreciate the different parts of a question.
Add notes to a map or diagram. Annotations provide some additional description and/ or explanation. A label is normally a single word
You need to provide a numerical answer. Make sure you show your working out.
Provide an account of the similarities and differences between two sets of information or two areas. Two separate accounts are NOT a comparison. Try to use comparative adjectives e.g. larger than, smaller than, steeper than, gentler than etc. Compare refers to both the similarities and differences.
What are the differences between the two sets of information or areas?
Define / Explain the meaning of…
Give a simple definition or meaning of a term – one or two sentences. An example may be helpful but should never be used instead of a definition. The number of marks will give an indication of the length of answer required.
You are required to put into words what the map, photograph or diagram shows. This account should be factual. Do not attempt to explain the feature.
Describe the characteristics of … what does the feature look like?
Describe the link between …. What is the link between two sets of data?
Describe the changes in …. Often used in relation to a graph or a series of graphs. Good use of adverbs are needed using words such as rapidly, steeply, gently, etc. as well as quoting some figures from the graph which highlight the trends described.
Describe the differences between….. you must describe the differences between the two sets of data. Write each of the differences out in a separate sentence. Don’t write separate descriptions and leave it to the examiner to work out the differences!
Describe the location of / distribution of … This is usually used along with a map. Location refers to the place where something is usually in relation to a direction or other features, for example in the north west or in the mountains (use geographical terms!). Distribution refers to any grouping or recognisable pattern. Better answers will also identify some feature which goes against the overall trend in the distribution.Think: GENERAL pattern, SPECIFIC examples and any EXCEPTIONS
Describe and comment on …. This demands a higher level of response than just describe. You need to make a judgement or infer something.
You need to make a sketch of a feature and label the diagram
Explain / suggest reasons why … / account for…. / how might …..
Give a statement as to why something occurs. You need to show that you know or understand why or how something happens.
Give / Identify / Name / State
These words ask for a short sentence or single word answer to a simple task such as:
A landform may be identified from a photograph
A value from a graph is required
A named example of an item is required
You need to give an explanation, justification or cause of something
Give your views ….
What do you think about a stated issue. Your answer requires the answers to be supported by logical reasoning.
Illustrate your answers with ….
Quote specific examples or make sure that you use the map or diagram provided. High marks only given if diagram etc has been used.
You are required to place specific names or details on a diagram.
Identify and name a number of features. Single words or short sentences are needed.
Use the diagram, map or graph so that you can use the information contained within it when answering the question.
Refer to … / with reference to … /
This is just like illustrating your answer with
Use / Using the information provided
Base your answer on information provided and make reference to the materials in order to gain full credit.
With the help of…
The answer must use some of the information provided in the illustrative material in addition to their own factual knowledge. You need to make reference to the stated materials in order to gain credit