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ACCA exams – what words mean!

25 February 2019

Know your verbs...


If the question says ‘analyse’ you will need to break the question down into separate parts and discuss, examine or interpret each part.

A key ACCA tip: Give reasons for the current situation or what has happened.



If the question says ‘apply’ you will need to put into action pertinently and/or relevantly.

A key ACCA tip: Properly apply the scenario/case.



If the examiner wants you to ‘assess’ you will need to judge the worth, importance, evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent or significance of what is being asked.

A key ACCA tip: Determine the strengths, weaknesses, importance, significance, and ability to contribute.



If the question asks you to ‘calculate’ you will need to ascertain by computation, to make an estimate of, evaluate, and perform a mathematical process.

A Key ACCA tip: Provide description along with numerical calculations.



If the question says ‘comment’ you will need to remark or express an opinion.

A key ACCA tip: Your answer should include an explanation, illustration or criticism.



If the question wants you to ‘compare’ then you need to examine two or more things to identify similarities and differences.

A key ACCA tip: Clearly explain the resemblances or differences.



If the question says ‘conclusion’ then you will need to provide the result or outcome of an act or process or event, final arrangement or settlement.

A key ACCA tip: End your answer well, with a clear decision!



If the question says ‘criticise’ then you need top present the weaknesses/problems, and evaluate the comparative worth. Don’t explain the situation, instead analyse it.

A key ACCA tip: Criticism often involves analysis.



If the question says ‘define’ you need to give the meaning, and that’s usually a meaning specific to the course or subject!

ACCA key tip: Explain the exact meaning because usually definitions are short.



If the question asks you to ‘describe’ you have to give a detailed account or key features. That means listing characteristics, qualities and parts.

ACCA key tip: make a picture with words, identification is not sufficient for the examiner here.



If the examiner asks you to ‘discuss’ you must consider and debate/argue about the pros and cons of an issue. This means you have to examine in detail by using arguments in favour or against.

ACCA key tip: Write about any conflict, compare and contrast.



If the examiner wants you to ‘evaluate’ you must determine the scenario in the light of the arguments for and against.

ACCA key tip: Mention evidence, case, point, and issues to support your evaluation.



When it comes to ‘explain’ make an idea clear. Show logically how a concept is developed. Give the reason for an event.

ACCA key tip: Don’t just provide a list of points, add in some explanation of the points you are discussing.



If you need to ‘illustrate’ then give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples.

ACCA key tip: Add in some description.



If you are asked to ‘interpret’ you must comment on, give examples and describe relationships.

ACCA key tip: Include explanation and evaluation in your answer.



If the examiner wants to see a ‘list’ then list several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc.

ACCA key tip: This isn’t a time to discuss, just make a list!



If an ‘outline’ is called for then describe your main ideas, characteristics or events.

ACCA key tips: Briefly explain the highlighted points.



If you need to ‘recommend’ you are being asked to advise the appropriate actions to pursue in terms the recipient will understand.

ACCA key tip: Give advice or counsel.



If the examiner says ‘relate’ you must show the connections between ideas and events.

ACCA key tip: Relate to real time examples.



If the question says ‘State’ then explain precisely.

ACCA key tip: Focus on the exact point.



Finally, if you are asked to ‘summarise’ try to give a brief, condensed account. Include a conclusion and avoid unnecessary details.

ACCA key tip: Remember to conclude your explanation. There are marks in it!

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