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A Glossary of Key Words

This glossary contains key words that appear frequently in Board of Studies syllabuses, performance descriptions and examinations.

The purpose behind the glossary is to help students prepare better for the HSC by showing them that certain key words are used similarly in examination questions across the different subjects they are studying.

In classrooms, teachers of different subjects could use the glossary to help students to better understand what the examination questions in their subject require. Students should recognise the consistent approach of teachers of different subjects and get cues about how to approach examination questions.

For example, students would be better placed to respond to 'explain' questions if, in the context of different subjects, they developed an understanding that 'explain' could require them to relate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how.

It is also important that the key words should not be interpreted in an overly prescriptive way. Teachers must ensure that they do not use them in ways that conflict with their particular meaning within subjects. To do this would be counterproductive. A term like 'evaluate', for example, requires a different kind of response in Mathematics from that required in History and this needs to be respected.

When using key words to construct questions, tasks and marking schemes, it is helpful to ask what the use of the term in a particular question requires students to do.

Key words are best discussed with students in the context of questions and tasks they are working on, rather than in isolation.

It is important to note that examination questions for the HSC will continue to use self-explanatory terms such as 'how', or 'why' or 'to what extent'. While key words have a purpose, they will not set limits on legitimate subject-based questions in examination papers.

Account
Account for: state reasons for, report on. Give an account of: narrate a series of events or transactions
Analyse
Identify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications
Apply
Use, utilise, employ in a particular situation
Appreciate
Make a judgement about the value of
Assess
Make a judgement of value, quality, outcomes, results or size
Calculate
Ascertain/determine from given facts, figures or information
Clarify
Make clear or plain
Classify
Arrange or include in classes/categories
Compare
Show how things are similar or different
Construct
Make; build; put together items or arguments
Contrast
Show how things are different or opposite
Critically (analyse/evaluate)
Add a degree or level of accuracy depth, knowledge and understanding, logic, questioning, reflection and quality to (analyse/evaluate)
Deduce
Draw conclusions
Define
State meaning and identify essential qualities
Demonstrate
Show by example
Describe
Provide characteristics and features
Discuss
Identify issues and provide points for and/or against
Distinguish
Recognise or note/indicate as being distinct or different from; to note differences between
Evaluate
Make a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of
Examine
Inquire into
Explain
Relate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how
Extract
Choose relevant and/or appropriate details
Extrapolate
Infer from what is known
Identify
Recognise and name
Interpret
Draw meaning from
Investigate
Plan, inquire into and draw conclusions about
Justify
Support an argument or conclusion
Outline
Sketch in general terms; indicate the main features of
Predict
Suggest what may happen based on available information
Propose
Put forward (for example a point of view, idea, argument, suggestion) for consideration or action
Recall
Present remembered ideas, facts or experiences
Recommend
Provide reasons in favour
Recount
Retell a series of events
Summarise
Express, concisely, the relevant details
Synthesise
Putting together various elements to make a whole
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