Answering Exam Questions

List

List suggests that you can jot down single words or phrases quickly without taking the time to describe or explain in any detail. If your teacher has made a point of asking for complete sentences on essay tests, though, be sure to ask if list means a short-item list or an extended description list.

List also often gets combined with other key words. List and explain, for instance, tells you that you don't need to spend much time labeling the items but that you do need to elaborate on their importance or their relationships.

Writing tip: If your teacher is saving your time by allowing you to list short-item answers, consider using bullets to give a visual clue about how many items you have in your final list. Especially on handwritten tests, visual clarity becomes increasingly important to teachers as they read dozens of pages.

Substitute key words: identify, note, label

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Introduction