Know thy enemy: Decoding essay words

Who doesn’t love writing a 6-page essay under 30 minutes in a tense exam hall? The answer is NOBODY.

But we (the students) gotta do what we gotta do.

So, here is a crack down on the essay words that will help you unlock the way your essay should be structured and present the most coherent, lucid and articulate essays ever written in an exam. (Exaggeration much?)

(Psh. Be sure to support this knowledge with practice and preparation for then NONE SHALL DEFEAT YOU!)

Now, onwards to the decoding of keystone essay word –

  1. ASSESS
    • Consider or make an informed judgment about the value, strength or weakness of an argument, claim or topic.
    • Place special emphasis on weighing all views concerning the essay subject and discuss if the idea is valid.
    • However, your thoughts with respect to an argument or topic should be significantly clear.
    • It should be supported by evidence and literature to convince the reader about the strength of your argument but also remember to highlight the limitation to arguments and mention counter arguments.
  2. ANALYSE
    • Deconstruct the essay and break it into its fundamental parts.
    • Critically examine each part
    • Use important debates and evidence for arguments and show how they interconnect
  3. EVALUATE
    • Provide your opinion to the extent to which an argument or set of research finding is accurate or to the point you agree with it
    • Give information for both sides of the debate using a range of academic sources, quotes, case laws etc.
    • State position basing arguments on evidence that helped in arriving at the conclusion.
    • State conclusion clearly, logically and with reasons, remember to justify your position to the reader in the end.
  4. JUSTIFY
    • Explain the basis of argument by presenting evidence that informed your point of view
    • Present evidence convincingly with reasoning
    • Consider contradictory arguments and explain why they are unsatisfactory and why your argument is more acceptable
    • Conclude with a summary of the points and restating your stand
  5. REVIEW
    • Critically examine subject by summarizing main points and then discussing them while giving opinions.
    • State your position clearly and be highly analytical.
  6. DISCUSS
    • Take into account all aspects of debate with respect to a subject matter.
    • Lay the topic thread bare by including knowledge of other point of view and present a case for both sides.
    • Give your position based on presented evidence in the end
  7. EXAMINE
    • Establish key facts and issues then look at them in detail (if there are different scholars on a topic, give their approach and explain the difference)
    • Provide context as to why the facts and issues examined are important
  8. TO WHAT EXTENT
    • You have to show how far you agree with a proposition
    • Display extent of your knowledge (WITH FLAMBOYANCE!) and adopt an analytical style where you  
      • Present both sides of argument
      • Contrast your evidence
      • Explore alternative explanations
    • Show conclusively why evidence or information is more valid for supporting the answer
  9. DEFINE
    • Outline precise meaning if the term has a single meaning with sufficient clarity, support it with evidence where such definition was adopted
    • But if the terms has a contested meaning then mention
      • Definition by various scholars
      • Explain why the meaning is contested
      • Why did you choose one?
      • A summary of the above definition (preferably one in your own words)
  10. DEMONSTRATE
    • Assert your position on a topic by giving
      • examples like evidence, illustration and logical arguments
      • How this evidence supports claim
  11. DESCRIBE
    • Provide thorough insight into main points of subject objectively
    • Focus on characteristics that will form building blocks of answer (summarily write about the meaning)
    • If it is a phenomenon, Explain how and why something happens
  12. ELABORATE
    • Provide a lot of detail and information on a topic
    • Back your information with solid research
  13. EXPLAIN
    • Clarify a topic by
      • Providing as much detail as possible
      • Defining jargon/ key terms
    • Back any claim with evidence
    • Use “what”, “how” and “why” questions to structure clear and logically coherent response
  14. EXPLORE
    • Adopt a questioning approach to answer such questions
    • Provide overview of all point of view before providing your own point of view
    • Stay objective and reconcile opposing views with a final line of argument
  15. IDENTIFY
    • Point out and describe main ideas in short and coherent way
    • Determine key points and their implication
    • Conclude with an overview
  16. ILLUSTRATE
    • Use many examples tables, figures, graphs, statistics and evidence to demonstrate knowledge of the subject
    • Further explain your answer
    • Conclude with a reiteration of the topic
  17. OUTLINE
    • Present an organized description of a research topic or argument
    • Provide main point and important supplementary information
    • Conclude with a summary
  18. SUMMARISE
    • Give condensed form of main points or facts
    • Be brief and straight to point
  19. CLARIFY
    • Provide insight
    • Demonstrate your knowledge by explaining topic in simpler terms
    • Be coherent and systematic
  20. COMPARE
    • Identify similarities and their significance
    • Also give emphasis on difference but focus on similarities
  21. CONTRAST
    • Identify differences
    • And emphasize their significance
  22. COMMENT UPON
    • Start with a general overview of the topic
    • Pick main points on subject and give your opinion
    • Reinforce your point of view using logic and evidence
  23. CONSIDER
    • State your thoughts/opinion
    • Show your observation about the topics
    • Back up comments with evidence or experience
    • Include contrary views and show they relate to your thoughts
  24. GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF
    • Give detailed description of topic
  25. INTERPRET
    • Demonstrate understanding of topic by breaking the topic down into buts and mentioning evidence, arguments, illustration etc.
    • Comment on significant patterns and causal relationship, if any.
    • Conclude with a clear stand on the topic
  26. SHOW HOW
    • Present stages and combination of factors that cause something
    • Back such factors with evidence
  27. STATE
    • Specify terms without too much description
    • Give reference and evidence
    • Conclude with a summary

Now that the power lies in your hand, get those marks in the loot! Until the next post,

HAPPY HUSTLIN’ HON!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s