Understanding Common Assignment Terms

In order to successfully complete an assignment you must understand clearly what you have to do. An important part of defining your task is to identify and understand the key action terms.

Here are the definitions of some of the common assignment terms: 

Account

Give the reasons for something happening.

Analyse

Break down and examine the topic in detail.

Apply

To use something.

Appreciate

Make a judgement about the value of.

Argue

Present both sides of the case. We give a ‘for’ and an ‘against’ discussion about the idea or topic.

Assess

Make a judgement of value, quality, outcomes, results or size.

Bibliography

A list of all the information sources you take information from when researching a topic.

Calculate

Determine from the given facts, figures or information.

Clarify

Make the information clear.

Classify

Arrange in classes or categories.

Comment on

Express a personal opinion based on the evidence provided.

Compare

Show how things are similar or different.

Conclusions

The last part of a task where you draw all your points or arguments together to give your final answer to the set question or your considered opinion about the topic. You can state the importance or significance of what your research has uncovered about the issue or topic by outlining its broader implications, as a way of rounding off the discussion.

Construct

Build information so it can be presented in the form required, for example an essay.

Contrast

Show and discuss the differences between two things/subjects.

Critically analyse/ evaluate/examine

Add a further degree of depth, understanding and judgement to the analysis, evaluation or examination.

Criticise/critique

Give your judgement on the truth, accuracy and value of the information presented.

Debate

Argue from two or more different viewpoints.

Deduce

Draw conclusions about.

Define

State the meaning and identify the essential qualities of.

Demonstrate

Show by using examples.

Describe

Give a detailed account of a topic or object.

Design

Create a plan or format for an idea or subject.

Differentiate

Find differences between two or more ideas.

Discuss

Give reasons for and against a point of view or opinions.

Distinguish

Recognise how something is different or distinct. Note the differences between.

Evaluate

Judge or consider information - this can include your educated personal opinion.

Examine

Inspect or study a subject, topic or information carefully.

Expand

Elaborate and give a detailed explanation.

Explain

Make a topic clearer by looking at how and why things occur.

Extract

Choose the relevant or appropriate details.

Extrapolate

Infer from what is known.

Format

The way the information is presented.

Keywords/key phrases

Important or significant words or phrases that help you to understand the task. These words and phrases can be used in a search engine or book index to find information about the topic.

Identify

Recognise and name.

Illustrate

Use examples to give an explanation of the information.

Interpret

Explain the information using your own judgement and own words.

Investigate

Plan and then inquire into a topic, drawing conclusions.

Judge

Weigh up the evidence for and against the subject and form an educated opinion based on the evidence.

Justify

Give evidence or reasons to support the decisions or conclusions you make.

Logical

Information that is based on facts, and (or) broken down into sensible, practical and manageable sections.

Organise

To arrange information in a logical or effective way.

Outcome

A result that has been produced by something.

Outline

A brief account of all the information, for example dot points of the most important facts of the selected information.

Paraphrase

Re-state the information using your own words.

Predict

To say what you think is going to happen.

Perspective

A point of view on an issue or information given.

Primary information source

Original material usually created at the time of the events being investigated. Examples are memoires, letters, speeches, images, official documents and scientific research.

Propose

Put forward a viewpoint, argument or idea for consideration or action.

Prove

Show the truth of information, using supporting facts as evidence. 

Purpose

What something is designed to do or achieve.

Recall

Present remembered ideas, facts or experiences.

Recommend

Provide reasons in favour.

Recount

Retell a series of events.

Relate

Show how things are connected to each other.

Reflect

To think carefully about work that has been completed or information that has been given.

Relevant

Information that is important or connected to the topic or task.

Research

To investigate a topic or subject, to discover facts and gain knowledge.

Review

To inspect or have a second look over a topic and give an account of what you find.

Secondary information sources

Information created by examining, analysing and making judgements about primary sources. Examples are an information book about a topic in history, and a journal or encyclopedia article about a topic.

Select

Choose information that is relevant to the task.

Sketch

To draw a freehand image or describe something quickly in words.

State

Say something clearly and fully.

Summarise

Give a clear but short account of the important facts of the topic.

Synthesise

To create something new by combining pieces of information together in your own way.

Trace

To find something by investigating and following where the information leads.

Verify

Examine information and show that it is true.

 

 

 

 

 

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