Essay Key Words
Key terms to remember: Often the response expected is determined by key words used within the essay question.• Compare:
• Analyze: Give good reasons for decisions, actions or conclusions. Break the subject down into various parts, examine and evaluate them closely, and explain them.
Show the similarities or likeness of qualities or characteristics against a background of differences between two or more topics.• Contrast:
Stress differences or dissimilarities against a background of similarities between two or more topics.• Criticize / Critique:
Examine closely and give your opinion or judgement of the merits and / or demerits, strengths and weaknesses, and good / bad points of views mentioned; may include approval and / or disapproval supported by convincing factual evidence; include limitations and good points.• Define:
Give clear, concise, and authoritative meanings. Make sure to give limits of the definition. Show how the thing you are defining differs from other things in a class.• Describe:
Give a verbal account or word picture; give characteristics of or relative in sequence or story form. Include who, what, where and why.• Diagram:
Give a drawing, table, plan, or graphic answer. Label and add a brief explanation or description.• Discuss:
Consider the topic from various points of view; dig into causes, results and possible implications; give details. Give a complete and detailed answer. Give as many important main points about the subject as you can.
More Key Terms• Evaluate:
State your opinion pro and / or con about the value of something, its advantages, disadvantages, limitations, etc. You may include appraisal of authorities as well.• Explain or Interpret:
Make a concept clear, plain or easy to understand, usually in simpler or more familiar terms; give examples, clear reasons, facts or details; make it as concrete as possible. Tell about the importance of the subject. Explain the results or effects of something.• Illustrate:
Explain or argue using specific examples.• Justify:
Give good reasons, proof, or evidence for opinions, actions, conclusions or decisions; present facts to support your opinion, position or argument. Be convincing.• Prove:
Establish convincing support that something is true by giving factual evidence or logical reasons.• Relate:
Show how things are alike or connected with each other, how one causes another, correlates with another, or is like another.• State:
Present the main points in brief, clear sequence, including necessary illustrations or examples, but avoid excessive details.• Summarize:
Briefly give the main points in condensed form, omitting details and illustrations.• Trace:
Follow the course of a movement, event, or process, from some point of origin, giving a description of the progress or highlights.