Instruction Words

Referencing Guides

How do I reference?

How do I reference a figure?

Formatting your References

Academic Integrity

APA Referencing Quizzes

Academic Writing

APA Style

Writing Skills

Parts of Speech

Study Skills

Assignment Types


Specific Programme Guides

Research Skills

Numeracy Skills

Language Skills


Assignment and exam questions include a topic and instruction words which indicate how you are to address the topic. Below is a list of some instruction words you may encounter, with their meanings. It is intended as a guide only and further clarification should be sought from your class tutor if you are unsure what is expected.

Instruction Word

Account for

Give reasons, explain why it happened.


Break the subject up into its main ideas, and describe the relationships between them. Focus on ‘how’ and 'why’. Do not simply describe or summarise.


Present a convincing, soundly reasoned case for and/or against.


Critically judge the value of a subject.

Comment on

Discuss, explain, and give your opinion on the ideas expressed. Use analogies or examples to support your response.


Look for similarities between the things mentioned. Emphasise similarities but mention differences where appropriate.


Stress the differences between the things mentioned.

Critically analyse

Break up the subject into its main ideas and identify the underlying assumptions and questions that are NOT being asked.


Make a judgement about the merit or truth of the facts or views mentioned, discussing both positive points and limitations. Support with evidence.


Clearly state the exact meaning. Give the limits of the definition.


Give a detailed account of the characteristics of a subject, or retell the essential features of a story.


Analyse a subject from different points of view and come to a well-reasoned conclusion.


Examine the various sides of a subject, citing positive and negative features. Then make a judgment as to its significance, relevance, value, importance or quality.


Inspect in detail and investigate the implications.


Make clear the details; show the reason for, or underlying cause of, or the means by which something occurs. You may provide examples to support the explanation.


Use examples. Or where appropriate, provide a figure or diagram.


Point out, make known or show.


Join together in a logical way.


Translate, solve, or comment on a subject, usually giving your judgement about it.


Provide evidence or give reasons for decisions or conclusions. Should be presented in a way that will convince the reader or listener.


Give the main features or general principles of a subject. Leave out minor details.


Show the truth of a statement by logical argument, experiment or test.


Show the connection between the things mentioned in the question.


Provide a summary, usually a critical one. A review usually also implies commenting on the important aspects of the questions.


Present the main points in a brief and clear sequence, usually omitting details or examples.


Give the main points in order of importance or trace the argument briefly.


Identify and describe the development or history of something from some point, or from its origin.