Be sure you know what kind of writing or research task your lecturer
is assigning. Below are some common words that are used in assignments
and essay titles, with a brief definition.
- Analogy-provide an example of a similar condition, circumstance
- Apply-use what you have already learned in one context and
apply in another context
- Argue- persuade or convince your reader of your position on
- Analyse-discuss and or describe how various component parts
operate in combination or independently
- Classify- locate items of information into distinct classes,
types or categories
- Compare/contrast-provide the major similarities and/or differences
- Describe-provide a detailed description or account of something
- Define-give an explanation of the meaning and or function of
an object or concept
- Discuss- bring together (in form of an opinion or summary)
the points of view you have encountered in your reading and elaborate
on them before reaching a conclusion.
- Evaluate-decide on the effectiveness of a particular feature
of the text you have read and determine with the help of supporting
evidence whether it meets the established criteria
- Examine: critically discuss the essential elements under examination
- Illustrate: make a point with the help of visual representation
or concrete examples
- Justify: provide a logical rationale/reason for the choices
- Outline: provide the surface parts only
- Summarise: put the main ideas into your own words.
DIFFERENT WAYS OF ORGANISING YOUR ASSIGMENT OR ESSAY
Think about the aims of your essay, the type of essay question and the
type of information you are using, and then chose the best way of organising
your paper. Below are some different ways of structuring your paper.
ANALYSIS: Breaking a large subject into smaller parts to help
clarify the nature of the parts or to clarify the links between the parts.
CHRONOLOGY or SEQUENCE: Ordering events or steps in a process
as they occur in time.
PROBLEM/SOLUTION: Posing a problem and then 1) explaining
how to solve it, or 2) examining different possible solutions.
COMPARISON and CONTRAST: Showing the similarities and differences
between two similar concepts, or showing the advantages and disadvantages
of each issue.
CAUSE and EFFECT: Focusing on the various contributing
causes leading up to a particular effect or event, or on the various effects
stemming from a particular cause or event.
HYPOTHESIS and SUPPORT: Presenting a particular viewpoint
and justifying it with supporting evidence, arguments, refutations, or
CASE STUDY: Using a particular example to help establish,
prove or disprove a generalisation.