Glossary of Key Words

A list of key words to know for the HSC and their definitions.

Written by:
Matrix Science Team
Glossary of Key Terms


You’ve likely heard the cliche that “There always a right tool for the job”. Well, the same holds true for the HSC where “there’s always a right word for the job!” Even when you’re not studying English, knowing the terms used in your various subjects will help you understand what is expected of you.

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How To Respond To NESA Key Words CTA

When answering HSC questions, it is important you understand how you are expected to respond. NESA has provided a glossary of keywords for students to refer to. As a student, you should read through this glossary to familiarise themselves with NESA’s definitions of these words so you know how to respond to questions and instructions.

Account forState reasons for, report on. Give an account of: narrate a series of events or transactions
AnalyseIdentify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications
ApplyUse, utilise, employ in a particular situation
AppreciateMake a judgement about the value of
AssessMake a judgement of value, quality, outcomes, results or size
CalculateAscertain/determine from given facts, figures or information
ClarifyMake clear or plain
ClassifyArrange or include in classes/categories
CompareShow how things are similar or different
ConstructMake; build; put together items or arguments
ContrastShow how things are different or opposite
Critically (analyse/evaluate)Add a degree or level of accuracy depth, knowledge and understanding, logic, questioning, reflection and quality to (analyse/evaluate)
DeduceDraw conclusions
DefineState meaning and identify essential qualities
DemonstrateShow by example
DescribeProvide characteristics and features
DiscussIdentify issues and provide points for and/or against
DistinguishRecognise or note/indicate as being distinct or different from; to note differences between
EvaluateMake a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of
ExamineInquire into
ExplainRelate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how
ExtractChoose relevant and/or appropriate details
ExtrapolateInfer from what is known
IdentifyRecognise and name
InterpretDraw meaning from
InvestigatePlan, inquire into and draw conclusions about
JustifySupport an argument or conclusion
OutlineSketch in general terms; indicate the main features of
PredictSuggest what may happen based on available information
ProposePut forward (for example a point of view, idea, argument, suggestion) for consideration or action
RecallPresent remembered ideas, facts or experiences
RecommendProvide reasons in favour
RecountRetell a series of events
SummariseExpress, concisely, the relevant details
SynthesisePutting together various elements to make a whole



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Written by Matrix Science Team

The Matrix Science Team are teachers and tutors with a passion for Science and a dedication to seeing Matrix Students achieving their academic goals.

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