Instructions on a Test Can Trip You Up

exampaperHave you ever made the fatal mistake of overlooking the instructions on a test and cruising through the exam thinking you aced it only to find you blew it big time because you didn’t answer the questions properly? So – before you begin your test that you are so anxious to take – make sure you read the instructions word for word because it only takes one word to trip you up.  See our post on Common Mistakes on a Test.

Here are some common types of words used in instructions that tell you what you should do for that particular section of the test:

- Analyze – This type of question usually means it is an essay so you should explain it thoroughly.
- Comment – This usually means that you should provide your explanation of the relevance of the statement that has been made.
- Compare – Simply explain the similarities and differences between two items.
- Contrast – Explain the differences only between two items.
- Define – This is usually a short essay or definition of a particular item.
- Demonstrate – This requires proof so you need to provide an example to answer the question.
- Diagram – Drawing a picture or chart to answer the question.
- Discuss – Frame the answer like a conversation providing pros and cons of the two issues.
- Enumerate – This is a list that is normally in a particular order like 1,2,3.
- Examine – This is your opinion on a particular subject which requires your reasoning as to why you reached your opinion.
- Explain – This needs your overview of an issue and your reasoning for your conclusion.
- Illustrate – This requires an example.
- Interpret – This requires your reasoning for your conclusion.
- Justify – This also requires your reasoning and examples to support your conclusion.
- List – This is a series of answers of a particular subject.
- Outline – This requires an explanation that usually has headings and subheadings.
- Order – This is usually a chronological listing such as dates.
- Prove – This requires your reasoning for your solution.
- Review – This is usually a recollection of important parts of a subject.
- Trace – This is to recollect something step by step – as an event.

Here is a great exercise – Can you Follow Instructions on a Test?

See our Post on In the Test Room Part 1, and Part 2



About the Author

Brian has a BA in Economics, and an MA in Psychology. He lives in British Columbia, Canada. He has traveled widely and has written extensively on education, testing and tests.

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