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Glossary of Key Words

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


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.

Want to learn how to respond to NESA Key Words?

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 for State reasons for, report on. Give an account of: narrate a series of events or transactions
Analyse Identify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications
Apply Use, utilise, employ in a particular situation
Appreciate Make a judgement about the value of
Assess Make a judgement of value, quality, outcomes, results or size
Calculate Ascertain/determine from given facts, figures or information
Clarify Make clear or plain
Classify Arrange or include in classes/categories
Compare Show how things are similar or different
Construct Make; build; put together items or arguments
Contrast Show 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)
Deduce Draw conclusions
Define State meaning and identify essential qualities
Demonstrate Show by example
Describe Provide characteristics and features
Discuss Identify issues and provide points for and/or against
Distinguish Recognise or note/indicate as being distinct or different from; to note differences between
Evaluate Make a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of
Examine Inquire into
Explain Relate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how
Extract Choose relevant and/or appropriate details
Extrapolate Infer from what is known
Identify Recognise and name
Interpret Draw meaning from
Investigate Plan, inquire into and draw conclusions about
Justify Support an argument or conclusion
Outline Sketch in general terms; indicate the main features of
Predict Suggest what may happen based on available information
Propose Put forward (for example a point of view, idea, argument, suggestion) for consideration or action
Recall Present remembered ideas, facts or experiences
Recommend Provide reasons in favour
Recount Retell a series of events
Summarise Express, concisely, the relevant details
Synthesise Putting 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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