Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Why you NEED to memorise definitions of task words
Task words. They exist, we know that. We pay little attention to them; we’ve heard them our whole schooling careers, right? ‘Discuss’ this and ‘describe’ that. We’ve been explaining and analysing since we were in Year 7, it’s all the same thing. That was my attitude in February last year when my teacher gave us a task words test. Safe to say, I got about 40% of them right.
Still confused as to why we needed to memorise these task words, I asked my teacher why we were “wasting time on something so stupid”. He told me if I didn’t know them, I wouldn’t even manage to get above a study score of above 30, and when he marked some practice questions I did, I understood why.
Contrary to popular belief, when you read a question for the first time the task word is the second most important thing you need to pay attention to. There is a difference between analyse, discuss and evaluate. They determine everything, whether you need to insert your own opinion into your answer, how you need to structure your answer, or how long your answer needs to be.
If you explain where you need to discuss, or analyse where you need to identify, the fact is, you won’t actually get full marks for that question, even if all the information is there. The legal studies exam doesn’t only want to measure how much you know about the content, but also how you can respond to the question. So how do you know what each task word is asking for, and how do you memorise this?
Easy, you test yourself. There is a task words table at the beginning of the legal studies textbook, but if your textbook doesn’t have one, I’ve inserted a smaller guide here!! Read them all through once, cover one half and quiz yourself. Get your friends involved!! Quiz each other!! Trust me, your answers will improve exponentially. You’ll know exactly what to say and how long you need to spend on each answer, and then you’re unstoppable.
Here’s a handy dandy guide for you (it’s been almost a year since I’ve done my exam, and I’ve still got these stuck in my head)
THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE, JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION!! PLEASE LOOK AT THE TEXTBOOK AS WELL!! (this is just to help you remember in a slightly more digestible way)
Define, Outline and Identify: Super quick, almost a one sentence answer, don’t spend more than 2 minutes on this one. (They usually range from about 1-4 marks). You literally just do exactly what they’re asking you to do.
Advise, Comment on: These ones are rare, probably around 5 marks. You just have to give your own opinion on the subject matter using evidence.
Analyse, Examine, Discuss and to what extent: These are your long ones, you have to go into detail, explore all sides (pro’s and con’s). There are slight differences between them all, please pay attention to those.
Compare, distinguish: You HAVE to use the word “whereas” here, if you don’t use that golden word you will lose a mark. Basically, just explain the differences between 2 things (eg fairness and equality)
Describe, Explain, provide: exactly what they’re asking for, super easy
Evaluate: Pro’s and cons and then you have to insert your own opinion!! That part is super important
Illustrate and Justify: give some examples to prove your point
Just a little note here: for all of the one’s I’ve grouped together, this doesn’t mean that they are identical, it just means they are similar. There are small differences between them and you have to know them!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE actually read the one’s from the textbook!! Goodluck!!