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Command verbs used in the Associate and Fellowship exams

Command verbs are the words in your exam questions that tell you what the examiner wants you to do

Also referred to as 'action words', command verbs are normally the first word in each question, although they do not include direct questioning words such as 'what', 'why', or 'who', usually used in multiple choice questions.

The alphabetical list below is designed to help you understand what each command verb is asking you to do

Some of these verbs can be used in more than one context and there are examples to help you understand the distinction.

By understanding these command verbs, you are on your way to understanding the exam question

It is essential that you carefully read each exam question (several times) before answering. Once you understand the question, restrict your answer to respond to exactly what has been asked.

It is also important to make sure that the time you spend on each question reflects the number of marks awarded to it. Where the question is asked in the context of a given scenario or situation, remember to adapt and tailor your answer to reflect the details of the scenario.

Question requirement
beginning with
Analyse Break down into component parts.
Assess Judge the effectiveness, implications, relevance, importance, suitability and/or value of.
Calculate Ascertain or reckon mathematically. It is advisable to include some workings so that partial marks can be gained for the use of correct methodology, even if the final result is incorrect.
Carry out Perform / do the specified test or task.
Comment on Give brief conclusions on.
Compare Highlight the similarities and differences between.
Construct Produce what has been asked for, with appropriate structure.
(e.g. "Construct a table showing ...".)
Contrast Highlight the differences between.
Define Give the exact meaning of.
Demonstrate Prove with certainty or exhibit by practical means.
Derive Develop a result from first principles (or from the given starting point).
Describe Express, fully and clearly, the details/facts of.
(e.g. "Describe the benefits payable under a term assurance policy" (bookwork) or "Describe the risks arising…" under a specific given scenario (application to the given context, which is likely to include specified products, operating environment, stakeholders and/or events).)
Determine Find the solution by argument or calculation, making clear your reasoning.
(e.g. "Determine the type of event that has occurred, based on the data provided" (application) or "Determine the most appropriate course of action for the company, within the given constraints" (higher order skills).)
Discuss Write about in some detail, taking into account different issues or points of view.
Draw Produce a representation of…a diagram, graph, chart etc.
(e.g. "Draw a diagram to illustrate the profit-maximising price" (bookwork) or "Draw a scatterplot" (application required).)
Estimate Calculate a result, using judgement to decide on suitable assumptions and/or approximations.
(Used when the result is not definitive. Assumptions made should be expressed clearly and intermediate workings should be shown.)
Evaluate Judge the suitability of something for a given purpose.
Explain Make clear the meaning or purpose or details of, or the justification for.
Express Write down the result in the specified terms.
Give Write down what has been asked for, without explanation.
(e.g. "Give an example of ...".)
Identify Select after consideration of the possible options or alternatives.
Justify Provide reasons to support.
Label Attach a name to unidentified terms …on a graph, chart, diagram, table.
(e.g. "Label the axes" (bookwork) or "Label the curves which correspond to each of the given scenarios" (application required).)
List Make a list of.
(e.g. "List the Technical Actuarial Standards issued by the Financial Reporting Council" (bookwork) or "List the assumptions/rating factors that would be required to price this product" (application required).)
Outline Describe briefly without elaboration or explanation.
Perform Undertake the specified test.
Plot Illustrate the given information or data using a chart or graph.
(Note: "Plot" implies that more accuracy is required than "Sketch".)
Prepare Make or get ready for use.
Propose Select and then communicate a solution, action or range of possible solutions/actions.
(Justification is not expected unless explicitly asked for, e.g. "with reasons".)
Prove Demonstrate the truth of what is indicated, through mathematical argument.
Recommend Select and then communicate a preferred solution or course of action.
(Justification is not expected unless explicitly asked for, e.g. "with reasons".)
Set out Write down in a structured way.
Show Demonstrate the given result to be correct
Simplify Give an equivalent, but simpler, version of a mathematical expression.
Sketch Produce a rough graph, chart or diagram of.
Solve Find a mathematical answer to.
State Express the details/facts of…, without elaboration.
(e.g. "State the principles of investment" (bookwork) or "State whether the investor should take a long or short position on the option in this situation" (application required).)
Suggest Communicate a range of solutions, actions or reasons without justification.
(This is normally used in a situation where there is insufficient information provided to form a definitive recommendation or proposal, e.g. "Suggest possible reasons" or "Suggest possible actions".)
Test Check or examine something.
(e.g. "Test the hypothesis that…".)
Verify Demonstrate to be true.
Write down Provide exactly what has been asked for, without explanation or elaboration.

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