Study Advice

Tips for Different Tasks Words in tests and Exams

By Moya Ellis - 12 minute read

Many VCE and QCE subjects contain questions which start with all different types of task words. "Define", "outline" and "identify" all seem the same, but there is a difference. Knowing the true meanings for all these tasks words is a necessity and will make or break your tests.  

 

Identify

This task word simply means list out or state what the term is. An 'identify question' is usually a 1-mark question.

Example: Identify one right of an accused. [1 mark]

The right to a fair hearing

Outline

Briefly explain the term or concept. This may be a 1-2 mark question. 

Example: Outline one right of an accused. [2 marks]

Section 24(1) of the Human Rights Charter states an accused has the right to a fair hearing. They are entitled to have their hearing decided by a competent, independent and impartial court. 

Define  

Define means that you should state and explain the precise meaning of the term. You should pay particular attention to being accurate. These types of questions range between 1-2 marks. 

Example: Define one right of an accused. [1 mark]

The right to a fair hearing is listed in Section 24(1) of the Human Rights Charter. It states that a person who is charged with a criminal offence is entitled to have a hearing decided by a competent, independent and impartial court.  

Explain

Explain means that you should make the meaning of the term of concept clear and detailed. Write your response in an understandable tone and a way that makes the concept more comprehensive. These types of questions can range in the number of marks allocated. The amount of marks is a good indication of how much you should write. 

Example: Explain one right of an accused. [4 marks]

Section 24(1) of the Human Rights Charter states the right to a fair hearing. Every person has the right to have their case heard by an experienced judge or magistrate in an unbiased manner. To ensure the principles of justice are enacted, the hearing should be conducted in a fair and public manner. This allows for transparency so community standards are being applied to the case. 

Describe:

Describe is quite similar to explain where you should provide a detailed summary of the term or concept. This can also vary in the number of marks allocated. The number of marks will tell you how much you should be writing for that question. 

Example: Describe one right of an accused. [2 marks]

Section 24(1) of the Human Rights Charter states the right to a fair hearing. Every person has the right to have their case heard by an experienced judge or magistrate in an unbiased manner.

Apply

An apply question usually comes after a case study. One would apply their knowledge of the topic to a scenario. It is useful to show the relationship and connection between the case study and the topic at hand. Again, these questions can range a lot in marks allocated but it is normal for them to be around 4 marks each. 

Example: Sally is facing charges for the murder of David. She is set to go to trial on the 4th of June. 

Apply your knowledge of one right of an accused to this scenario. [4 marks].

Sally has the right to have a fair trial. This means that her trial on the 4th of June should be decided by a competent, independent and impartial court. Sally's case should be heard in an unbiased manner and should be conducted in public. This publicity will ensure that the community standards and the principle of fairness are upheld.   

Compare

For a compare question, it is important to talk about both the similarities and differences. These questions will vary in the number of marks indicated but the number of marks and lines given on the page will allow you to see how much you should be writing. For subjects like Psychology where you don't need to write in full sentences, it may be useful to draw up a quick table with the similarities and differences. 

Example: Compare the right to be tried without unreasonable delay and the right to a fair hearing. [4 marks]

The right to be tried without unreasonable delays and the right to a fair hearing are both rights belonging to an accused. They are also both stated in the human rights charter. However, the right to be tried without unreasonable delays relates to the case being heard in a timely manner whereas the right to a fair hearing relates to the case being heard by a competent, impartial and independent court. 

Contrast/distinguish

These task words relate to showing a point of difference. Unlike 'compare' we are just pointing out the differences and not mentioning the similarities. These questions will vary in the number of marks indicated but the number of marks and lines given on the page will allow you to see how much you should be writing.

Example: Distinguish between the right to be tried without unreasonable delay and the right to a fair hearing. [4 marks]

The right to be tried without unreasonable delays relates to the case being heard in a timely manner where the length of a delay should be seen as acceptable and fair. Whereas the right to a fair hearing relates to the case being heard by a competent, impartial and independent court. The hearing should be in public to ensure the principles of justice and community standards are upheld. 

Analyse/examine:

These terms mean you should weigh up the pros and cons. This should be done by breaking the question into small parts and making a decision. These can be shorter questions or longer ones depending on how many marks are allocated. 

Example: Alanyse the effectiveness of the right of an accused to a fair hearing. [4 marks]

The right to a fair hearing is upheld through many hearings being conducted in a public setting. Since most hearings are open to all community to attend, it ensures that community guidelines are upheld. If the hearing is not fair, then the case may be subjected to public scrutiny and negative media attention. However, there are some instances where a closed case is permitted and therefore the public is not allowed to watch. The lack of transparency in these cases may lead to an unfair trial, breaching this right of an accused. 

Discuss: 

When a question asks you to 'discuss' something, they are really asking you to examine the issue. You should bring up both positive and negative arguments relating to the issue. Also, it is important to explain if there are any noticeable differentiation between the concepts within the question. These types of questions can vary in marks allocated. 

Example: Discuss the right of an accused to a fair hearing. [4 marks]

Section 24(1) of the Human Rights Charter states the accused has the right to a fair hearing. This means that their case should be heard before a competent, independent and impartial court. This right is upheld because court cases are open to the public. This transparency in court cases means that if the court does not uphold the right to a fair hearing, then it will be subjected to public scrutiny and negative media attention. However, some court cases are closed to the public, which means that there is no incentive for the court to uphold the right to a fair hearing. This could lead to an unfair trial as there are no checks on the courts. 

To what extent:

Some questions ask you 'to what extent'. This may be apart of a 'discuss' or 'evaluate' question. The key to these questions is to open with an answer. Your opening sentence should address the question directly and then you should go into your reasons. Unless this is an 'evaluate' question, no conclusion is necessary. These questions can vary in marks allocated. 

Example: Discuss the extent to which the right of an accused to a fair hearing is achieved. [6 marks]

The right to a fair hearing is achieved to a large extent. Since most hearings are open to all community to attend, it ensures that community guidelines are upheld. If the hearing is not fair, then the case may be subjected to public scrutiny and negative media attention.

However, there are some instances where a closed case is permitted and therefore the public is not allowed to watch. The lack of transparency in these cases may lead to an unfair trial, breaching this right of an accused. Nonetheless, since most cases are within an open-court, the right to a fair hearing is achieved to a large extent because more often than not, it is open to public scrutiny.

Justify:

Questions beginning with 'justify' mean that you need to come to a conclusion. You are trying to prove that something is either right or wrong. It's easiest in most situations to agree with the statement and justify why it is true. You should give some negatives to show that you know a higher understanding but in the end, a conclusion is necessary. The marks allocated are dependent on the number of lines given and can vary. 

Example: Justify the effectiveness of the right to a fair hearing. [4 marks]

 The right to a fair hearing is very effective. Since most hearings are open to all community to attend, it ensures that community guidelines are upheld. If the hearing is not fair, then the case may be subjected to public scrutiny and negative media attention.

However, there are some instances where a closed case is permitted and therefore the public is not allowed to watch. The lack of transparency in these cases may lead to an unfair trial, breaching this right of an accused. Nonetheless, since most cases are within an open-court, the right to a fair hearing is effective because more often than not, it is open to public scrutiny.

Evaluate:

In an evaluate question it is very important to come to a conclusion. You cannot 'sit on the fence'. You should be comparing the advantages and disadvantages and then you should come to a conclusion. It would be a good idea to have an opening sentence and then have a concluding paragraph. They usually will have a few different topics within the question that you will have to link together. 'Evaluate' questions usually are allocated more marks (anywhere between 5-10). 

Example: Evaluate the effectiveness of the rights of an accused. [8 marks]

In the criminal justice system, there are three rights that an accused is entitled to. An accused has the right to be tried without unreasonable delay, the right to a fair hearing and the right to trial by jury. Despite some weaknesses, these rights are effective in the criminal justice system. 

The right to be tried without unreasonable delay means that an accused is entitled to have their case heard in a timely manner. This right is effective as this right benefits the accused since they may be in custody or remand and the victims who want to receive justice without undue delay. Since this right benefits so many people, there is more of an incentive to uphold this right. 

The right to a fair hearing relates to having a hearing decided by a competent, independent and impartial court. This is an effective right as many hearings are conducted in a public setting which means that if this right is not upheld, it will be subjected to public and media scrutiny. It ensures that the laws are applied properly and fairly. 

However, some cases are not open to the public. This lack of transparency may lead to the courts not adhering to the right to a fair hearing. Therefore in a closed court, the right to a fair hearing may not be effective. 

Nonetheless, the right to trial by jury is effective as it is protected through statute law and section 80 of the Constitution. Any person charged with an indictable offence and pleads not guilty is entitled to a trial by jury. Even though Section 80 only relates to Commonwealth indictable offences, most crimes come under the jurisdiction of statute law which ensures that this right is upheld. 

Although, the right to trial by jury is ineffective in cases involving summary offences or indictable offences heard summarily. The right to trial by jury is only available to those charged with indictable offences, limiting this right. 

Ultimately, despite the weakness of closed-court cases and summary offences not being eligible for trial by jury, the rights of an accused are very effective. They ensure all cases are heard within a timely manner, a fair trial is conducted and that all indictable offences are entitled to a trial by jury. 

 

We hope this study guide was helpful and you are now ready to tackle any sort of question given to you. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

The Studyclix Team