Directives Commonly Used in Exam Essay Questions
Exam Day 2017
12:00 PMView AP Exam calendar.
As you complete the free response section, pay close attention to the directive words used in the question (e.g., analyze, assess/evaluate, compare) as ignoring directives will result in a lower exam score. Here are some examples of directives you can expect on the exam and suggestions on how to respond.
Analyze: determine the component parts; examine their nature and relationship. "Analyze the major social and technological changes that took place in European warfare between 1789 and 1871."
Assess/evaluate: judge the value or character of something; appraise; evaluate the positive points and the negative ones; give an opinion regarding the value of; discuss the advantages and disadvantages of. "'Luther was both a revolutionary and a conservative.' Evaluate this statement with respect to Luther's responses to the political and social questions of his day."
Compare: examine for the purpose of noting similarities and differences. "Compare the rise to power of fascism in Italy and in Germany."
Contrast: examine in order to show dissimilarities or points of difference. "Contrast the ways in which European skilled artisans of the mid-eighteenth century and European factory workers of the late nineteenth century differed in their work behavior and in their attitudes toward work."
Describe: give an account of; tell about; give a word picture of. "Describe and analyze how overseas expansion by European states affected global trade and international relations from 1600 to 1715."
Discuss: talk over; write about; consider or examine by argument or from various points of view; debate; present the different sides of. "Discuss the extent to which nineteenth-century Romanticism was or was not a conservative cultural and intellectual movement."
Explain: make clear or plain; make clear the causes or reasons for; make known in detail; tell the meaning of. "Explain how economic, political, and religious factors promoted European explorations from about 1450 to about 1525."
Identify: cite specific events, phenomena, and show a connection. "Identify the social and economic factors in preindustrial England that explain why England was the first country to industrialize."