When you're faced with a question or a task, taking the time to really grasp what it's asking is crucial. This understanding will help you create a response that directly addresses the requirements. To do this effectively, let's break it down into a few key elements:
1. Subject Matter or Topic
The first step is to identify what the question is about, what the main topic or subject matter is. This gives you a clear starting point for your response.
2. Specific Focus
Next, pinpoint the specific aspect or focus of the topic that the question is honing in on. This helps you narrow down your response and prevents you from going off-topic.
3. Specific Aspect and Point of View
Often, questions express a particular perspective or aspect through phrases like 'the importance of.' Identify this aspect, which guides your response by showing you what the question wants you to explore.
4. Instruction/Question Word
Pay attention to the instruction or question word. It tells you what action you need to take as a writer. Consult a table of question words and their meanings to ensure you understand what's required.
5. Viewpoint to Be Argued
Consider whether the viewpoint presented in the question aligns with your own perspective on the subject. If it doesn't, be prepared to argue your own viewpoint, supporting it with evidence and reasoning.
For example, let's apply these steps to a sample question: "Discuss the impact of social media on the student experience at Queen's."
- Social media
- Impact on Queen's students' experience
- "The impact of" – the question focuses on the effects of social media on students at Queen's.
- "Discuss" asks you to share your thoughts on the topic and provide supporting arguments or conclusions.
- You need to decide if social media significantly impacts Queen's students, and you'll need to argue your viewpoint.
It's also helpful to visually highlight key components like the question word, the focus, and the viewpoint to keep them in mind as you craft your response.
Tip: These steps and the table of question words can be handy when dealing with questions in exams as well.
Understanding Instruction Word
|Instruction Word||Definition - What You Are Expected to Do|
|Account [give an]||Describe|
|Account for||Give reasons for|
|Analyse||Give an organised answer looking at all aspects|
|Apply||Put a theory into operation|
|Assess||Decide on value/importance|
|Brief account [give a]||Describe in a concise way|
|Comment on||Give your opinion|
|Compare [with]||Discuss similarities; draw conclusions on common areas|
|Compile||Make up (a list/plan/outline)|
|Consider||Describe/give your views on subject|
|Contrast||Discuss differences/draw own view|
|Criticise||Point out weak/strong points i.e. balanced answer|
|Define||Give the meaning of a term, concisely|
|Demonstrate||Show by example/evidence|
|Describe||Narrative on process/appearance/operation/sequence|
|Discuss||Give your own thoughts and support your opinion or conclusion|
|Evaluate||Decide on merit of situation/argument|
|Exemplify||Show by giving examples|
|Expand||Give more information|
|Explain||Give reason for – say why|
|Explain how||Describe how something works|
|Indicate||Point out, but not in great detail|
|Justify||Support the argument for...|
|List||Make an organised list, e.g. events|
|Outline||Describe basic factors|
|Plan||Think how to organise something|
|Report||Make an account on process, event|
|Review||Write report – give facts and views on facts|
|Show||Demonstrate with supporting evidence|
|Specify||Give details of something|
|State||Give a clear account of...|
|Summarise||Briefly give an account|
|Trace||Provide a brief chronology of events/process|
|Work out||Find a solution, e.g., as in a math problem|