Physics exam trigger words

Commonly used words/phrases used in physics exams.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Matthew
  • Created on: 08-01-12 21:11
Preview of Physics exam trigger words

First 494 words of the document:

Examiners use certain words that require you to respond in a particular way. You must be able to
distinguish between these terms and understand exactly what each requires you to do. Some
frequently used commands are shown below.
· State -- the answer should be a brief sentence giving the essential facts; no explanation is
required (nor should you give one).
· Define -- you can use a word equation; if you use symbols, it is essential to state clearly what each
symbol represents.
· List -- simply give a series of words or terms; there is no need to write sentences.
· Outline -- this word is often used when asking you to give a brief description of a process; a logical
series of bullet points or phrases will suffice.
· Describe -- for an experiment, a diagram is essential; then state the main points concisely (bullet
points can be used).
· Draw -- diagrams should be drawn in section, neatly and fully labelled with all measurements
clearly shown; but don't waste time -- remember that this is not an art exam.
· Sketch -- usually a graph is called for, but graph paper is not necessary (although a grid is
sometimes provided); axes must be labelled and include a scale if numerical data are given; the
origin should be shown if appropriate, and the general shape of the expected line or curve should be
drawn clearly.
· Explain -- use correct physics terminology and principles; the amount of detail in your answer
should reflect the number of marks available.
· Show that -- usually a value is provided (to enable you to proceed with the next part of the
question) and you have to demonstrate how this value can be obtained; you should show all your
working and state your result to more significant figures than the given value contains (to prove that
you have actually done the calculations).
· Calculate -- show all your working and include units at every stage; the number of significant
figures in your answer should reflect the given data, but you should keep each stage with more
significant figures in your calculator to prevent excessive rounding.
· Determine -- you will probably have to extract some data, often from a graph, in order to perform
a calculation.
· Estimate -- this means doing a calculation in which you have to make a sensible assumption,
possibly about the value of one of the quantities; think -- does your assumption lead to a reasonable
· Suggest -- there is often no single correct answer; credit is given for sensible reasoning based on
correct physics.
· Discuss -- you need to sustain an argument, giving evidence for and against, based on your
knowledge of physics and possibly using appropriate data to justify your answer.


No comments have yet been made

Similar Physics resources:

See all Physics resources »See all resources »