Identify task, content & limiting words in the essay question
Essay topics contain keywords that explain what information is required and how it is to be presented. Using the essay question below identify task content & limiting words. Regardless of your topic or discipline, if you can identify these words in your essay topic, you can begin to consider what you will need to do to answer the question.
Task words: These are words that tell you what to do, for example, “compare”, “discuss”, “critically evaluate”, “explain” etc.
Content words: These words in the essay topic will tell you which ideas and concepts should form the knowledge base of the assignment. Refer to subject-specific dictionary or glossary.
Limiting words: These words will help you limit the scope of your assignments so that you only discuss those aspects of the topic that have been asked for. Which words limit the subject in some way?
Task words are usually verbs and they tell you what to do to complete your assignment.
You need to identify these words, because you will need to follow these instructions to pass the assignment. As you research and write your assignment, check these words occasionally to make sure you are still doing what you have been asked to do.
Here are some definitions of different academic task words. Make sure you know exactly what you need to do for your assignment.
Don’t try to use them in your research – they aren’t things to find, only things to do.
The task words from our sample question are:
Effective communication is considered a core skill in higher education and is usually conveyed through the medium of academic papers and essays. Discuss the process of writing academic essays and critically examine the importance of structure and content.
- Discuss means to “consider and offer an interpretation or evaluation of something, or give a judgment on the value of arguments for and against something”
- Examine means to inspect something in detail and investigate the implications
So, you would need to give a short description of what essay writing is all about, and then offer an evaluation of the essay structure and the way it presents content.
Sample Essay Questions
- Describe an example of a leadership experience in which you’ve positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
- Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
- What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
- Describe how you’ve taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you’ve faced.
- Describe the most significant challenge you’ve faced and the steps you’ve taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
- Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you’ve furthered this interest inside and/or outside the classroom.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
- Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?