How to differentiate questions asking for comment, critical comment, elucidate, analyse, evaluate, and all other terminologies?

Once we are good with the subject matter and question’s requirement. The next step come the solution/answer. To understand this, one must have few questions in mind like mention below:

Q1 > How to present?

Q2 > What would be the structure?

Q3 > How much detail?

Q4 > How to organise the content of answer?

Q5 > What info not to mention in answer?

Q6 > can I present any diagran?

many more..

Before writing the answer, one need to understand what has been asked to do? This gives an hint to above question. There are few instruction given in the question at the beginning or at the end. Few of these are mention below:


Discuss: requires an answer that explains an item or concept, and then gives details about it with supportive information, examples, points for and against, and explanations for the facts put forward. It is important to give both sides of an argument and come to a conclusion

Describe: requires an answer that says what something is like, how it works and so on

Explain: requires an answer that offers a rather detailed and exact explanation of an idea or principle, or a set of reasons for a situation or attitude

Comment: requires an answer in which one gives one’s thoughts on the subject

Classify: requires an answer that give different categories of the subject matters with a brief introduction and examples.

Elucidate: requires an answer that explains what something means, makes it clear (lucid)

Elaborate: requires an answer that gives definitions or explanations about a word, topic, or concept

Critically Examine: requires an answer that expresses the aspirant’s opinion or evaluation of a text considering various aspects with pros and cons.

Account: requires an answer that gives the reasons for the subject of the question

Analyse: requires an answer that takes apart an idea, concept or statement in order to consider all the factors it consists of. Answers of this type should be very methodical and logically organised

Compare: requires an answer that sets items side by side and shows their similarities and differences. A balanced (fair, objective) answer is expected.

Consider: requires an answer that sets items side by side and shows their similarities and differences. A balanced (fair, objective) answer is expected.

Contrast: requires an answer that points out only the differences between two items.

Criticize: requires an answer that points out mistakes or weaknesses, and that also indicates any favorable aspects of the subject of the question. It requires a balanced answer

Define: requires an answer that explains the precise meaning of a concept. A definition answer will include a definition, probably expanded.

Evaluate: require an answer that decides and explains how great, valuable or important something is. The judgement should be backed by a discussion of the evidence or reasoning involved.

Explore: requires an answer that examines the subject thoroughly and considers it from a variety of viewpoints.

Illustrate: requires an answer that consists mainly of examples to demonstrate or prove the subject of the question. It is often added to another instruction

Justify: requires an answer that gives only the reasons for a position or argument. Answer the main objections likely to be made of them. Note, however, that the proposition to be argued may be a negative one (e.g. Justify the abolition of the death penalty.)

Prove/Disprove: both of these require answers that demonstrate the logical arguments and/or evidence connected with a proposition prove requires the ‘pro’ points, and disprove requires the ‘contra’ points.

State: requires an answer that expresses the relevant points briefly and clearly without lengthy discussion or minor details.

Summaries: require an answer that contains a summary of all the available information about a subject, i.e. only the main points and not the details should be included. Questions of this type often require short answers.

Trace: is found most frequently in historical questions (but not only in History courses); it requires the statement and brief description in logical or chronological order of the stages (steps) in the development of e.g. a theory, a person’s life, a process, etc.

To What Extent is A True: requires an answer that discusses and explains in what ways X is true and in what ways X is not true.

Some other important words used in questions.

concept: an important idea

concise: short, brief

in the context of: referring to, inside the subject of

criteria: what standards you would expect; what questions you would expect to be answered

deduction: the conclusion or generalisation you come to after looking carefully at all the facts

factor(s): the circumstances bringing about a result

function: what something does its purpose or activities

implications: results that are not obvious, long term, suggested results

limitations: explain where something is not useful or not relevant

with/by reference to: make sure you write about the following subject

in relation to: only a certain part of the first topic is needed

role: what part something plays, how it works, especially in co-operation with others

scope: the area where something acts or has influence

significance: meaning and importance

valid/validity: is there evidence and are there facts to prove the statement?


After reading the questions, you should do the following analysis:

  • Identify the topic.
  • If the topic has a restriction or expansion, identify it.
  • Search for the aspect.
  • Identify the instruction.
  • Check whether there is a viewpoint.

Prepare well 🙂

Give JPSC Mains Model Paper II, III, IV, V, VI from home and get all your answers checked with feedback. Improve your performance. 

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