Analysing questions

Learn why analysing your assignment or exam question before you start writing is so important. 

To write a good answer for an assignment or exam, you need to really understand what the question is asking you to do.

Take some time to look closely at the question before you start writing so you are clear on the content you need to include and how to structure your answer.

How to analyse your question

Read the question a few times. Identify and underline:

  • Topic words – these tell you the areas you need to focus on. The topic words should be familiar to you as they will be related to your course content.
  • Limiting words – guide the focus of your assignment, e.g., “… in New Zealand” or “… in older adults”.
  • Task (or instruction) words – these tell you how to do something, e.g., describe, analyse, discuss. Check out this list of task (instruction) words and what they mean.

Watch Analysing your essay question (video 2:35) for more information on unpacking an essay question. You can apply the techniques shown in this video to all assignment questions.

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