VCE Action Verbs for Year 11-12 English Exams and Assignments

Analyse: A critical examination identifying the essential elements or features and principles. Describe and relate implications of the argument.

Apply: To show how the principle would operate when used in an example or a certain set of facts.

Argue: Present reasons for and against the issue.

Comment on: You need to discuss the subject you have been asked to comment on, giving your opinion on whether or not you agree with it and your reasons for it.

Compare: To explain points of similarity. It is not enough just to list the similarities and leave it to the examiner to identify the similarities. You need to explain how they are alike.

Contrast: To explain points of difference. It is not enough to just list differences and leave it to the examiner to identify the differences. You need to explain how they are different.

Critically Analyse: A critical examination identifying the essential elements, features or principles by describing the arguments for and against something or the strengths and weaknesses of, and give your opinion.

Critically Evaluate: To carefully appraise the value – considering both the strengths and weaknesses or the arguments for and against something. It is also valuable to provide a sort of conclusion, where you state the facts in a concise way.

Critically Examine: To scrutinize carefully by detailed description considering both the strengths and weaknesses or the arguments for and against something.

Define: State the meaning and identify it’s essential qualities. You may also be required to provide an example.

Discuss: To present a topic from all sides with a reasoned argument for and against a particular issue. You may add your opinion as part of a balanced argument.

Distinguish: To recognise or note differences, or to note the distinctive characteristic.

Describe: To give a factual account. If the question refers to a process, you may be expected to describe the process in sequential order.

Evaluate: Similar to critically evaluate, but in less detail.

Examine: Give a detailed account or describe what you know and understand about a particular situation given in the question.

Identify: To determine the key characteristics of the argument or process given in the question.

Illustrate: To use examples to clearly communicate an understanding. In order to ‘illustrate’, using an example, the example needs to directly relate to, and explain or describe the feature of, the legal system specified in the question.

Justify: To show a satisfactory reason for something being done – i.e. to show how a feature or aspect of the legal system contributes to the attainment of just outcomes.

Outline: A general account or summary indicating only the key features – used by examiners to indicate that a brief factual account is expected.

Suggest: To propose as suitable or possible. If a proposal is ‘suitable’, you will need to explain why it is suitable.

To what extent: A clear statement of agreement, disagreement or partial agreement. You will most likely need to provide a set of arguments and at the end a conclusion that sums up the issue. The degree to which an institution, process, procedures or law fulfills a certain purpose or principle (e.g. separation of powers).

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