Clarify the language

By taking the time to break down the question, even in exams, you will be able to write your essay more quickly and confidently.

Task words, or instruction words, tell you how to approach the topic. They're usually verbs at the start or the end of the question. Some common task words are:

Subject-specific words tell you what you have to write about – what you need to cover and what you can leave out. You might need to define some of these words in your introduction.

    'We can only guess at the reactions of Indigenous people to the impact of colonisation.' Discuss.

    In this question, the important subject-specific words are:

    • Indigenous people
    • colonisation.

    In your introduction you would say which Indigenous group/s you're going to focus on and define what you think 'colonisation' means.

Task words usually mean the same thing to different teachers, but always check if you're not sure what the question is asking.