The following words are commonly found on test questions. Understanding them is essential to success on these kinds of questions. Study these key words thoroughly. Know them backwards and forwards.

ANALYZE- Break into separate parts and examine, discuss or interpret each part.

COMPARE- Examine two or more things. Identify similarities and differences. Comparisons generally ask for similarities more than differences. (See CONTRAST).

CONTRAST- Show differences. Set in opposition.

CRITICIZE- Make judgments. Evaluate comparative worth. Criticism often involves analysis.

DEFINE- Give the meaning, usually a meaning specific to the course or subject. Determine the precise limits of the term to be defined. Explain the exact meaning. Definitions are usually short.

DESCRIBE- Give a detailed account. Make a picture with words. List characteristics, qualities, and parts.

DISCUSS- Consider and debate or argue the pros and cons of an issue. Write about any conflict. Compare and Contrast.

ENUMERATE- List several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc.

EVALUATE- Give your opinion of an expert. Include evidence to support the evaluation.

ILLUSTRATE- Give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples.

INTERPRET- Comment upon, give examples, describe relationships. Explain the meaning. Describe, then evaluate.

OUTLINE- Describe the main ideas, characteristics, or events. (Does not mean “write a Roman numeral/letter outline.”)

PROVE- Support with facts (especially facts presented in class or in the text).

STATE- Explain precisely.

SUMMARIZE- Give a brief, condensed account. Include conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details.

TRACE- Show the order of events or progress of a subject or event.