VCE glossary of command terms

Have you ever found it confusing when the command term ‘compare‘ means one thing in a certain subject, but is different in another subject? Worry no more – VCAA have released a glossary of command terms commonly used across VCE Study Designs and VCE examinations. We’ve bolded the ones that we commonly see in SACs and end-of-year exams:

account ofDescribe a series of events or transactions.
account forState reasons for; report on.
analyseIdentify components/elements and the significance of the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications; determine logic and reasonableness of information.
applyUse; employ in a particular situation or context.
assessMake a judgment about, or measure, determine or estimate, the value, quality, outcomes, results, size, significance, nature or extent of something.
calculateDetermine from given facts, figures or information; obtain a numerical answer showing the relevant stages in the working; determine or find (e.g. a number, answer) by using mathematical processes.
clarifyMake a statement or situation more comprehensible.
compareRecognise similarities and differences and the significance of these similarities and differences.
constructMake, build, create or put together by arranging ideas or items (e.g. an argument, artefact or solution); display information in a diagrammatic or logical form.
contrastShow how things are different or opposite.
deduceDraw a conclusion from given information, data, a narrative, an argument, an opinion, a design and/or a plan.
defineGive the precise meaning and identify essential qualities of a word, phrase, concept or physical quantity.  
demonstrateShow ideas, how something can be done or that something is true by using examples or practical applications, or by applying algorithms or formulas.
describeProvide characteristics, features and qualities of a given concept, opinion, situation, event, process, effect, argument, narrative, text, experiment, artwork, performance piece or other artefact in an accurate way.
discussPresent a clear, considered and balanced argument or prose that identifies issues and shows the strengths and weaknesses of, or points for and against, one or more arguments, concepts, factors, hypotheses, narratives and/or opinions.
distinguishMake clear the differences between two or more arguments, concepts, opinions, narratives, artefacts, data points, trends and/or items.
evaluateAscertain the value or amount of; make a judgment using the information supplied, criteria and/or own knowledge and understanding to consider a logical argument and/or supporting evidence for and against different points, arguments, concepts, processes, opinions or other information.
examineConsider an argument, concept, debate, data point, trend or artefact in a way that identifies assumptions, possibilities and interrelationships.
explainGive a detailed account of why and/or how with reference to causes, effects, continuity, change, reasons or mechanisms; make the relationships between things evident.
extractSelect relevant and/or appropriate detail from an argument, issue or artefact.
extrapolateInfer and/or extend information that may not be clearly stated from a narrative, opinion, graph or image by assuming existing trends will continue.
identifyRecognise and name and/or select an event, feature, ingredient, element, speaker and/or part from a list or extended narrative or argument, or within a diagram, structure, artwork or experiment.
inferDerive conclusions from available information or evidence, or through reasoning, rather than through explicit statements.
interpretDraw meaning from an argument, point of view, description or diagram, text, image or artwork and determine significance within context.
investigateObserve, study or carry out an examination in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
justifyShow, prove or defend, with reasoning and evidence, an argument, decision and/or point of view using given data and/or other information.
listProvide a series of related words, names, numbers or items that are arranged consecutively.
nameProvide a word or term (something that is known and distinguished from other people or things) used to identify an object, person, thing, place etc.
outlineProvide an overview or the main features of an argument, point of view, text, narrative, diagram or image.
persuadeInduce (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument; convince.
predictGive an expected result of an upcoming action or event; suggest what may happen based on available information.
proposeSuggest or put forward a point of view, idea, argument, diagram, plan and/or suggestion based on given data or stimulus material for consideration or action.
recallPresent remembered ideas, facts and/or experiences.
recommendPut forward and/or approve (someone or something) as being suitable for a particular purpose or role.
recountRetell a series of events or steps in a process, usually in order.
stateGive a specific name or value or other brief answer without explanation or calculation.
suggestPut forward for consideration a solution, hypothesis, idea or other possible answer.
summariseRetell concisely the relevant and major details of one or more arguments, text, narratives, methodologies, processes, outcomes and/or sequences of events.
synthesiseCombine various elements to make a whole or an overall point.

Use this glossary as the basis of your understanding for what certain command terms require of you in VCE Assessments – both SACs and end-of-year exams. This will ensure that you are answering the question in the way that VCAA is directing you to, so you can earn the maximum number of marks for your answer.

Still, please note that there will be subject-specific differences in the use of these command terms; a question asking you to ‘interpret‘ a quote in English will be very different to another question asking you to ‘interpret‘ a graph in another subject. For more subject-specific exam tips and tricks, look out for the ACED Exam Revision Lectures in September each year, by signing up to our mailing list:

ACED wishes you the best VCE exam success!

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