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Glossary of GCSE command words from AQA

Added 22 Aug 2018 | Updated 29 Nov 21

Notebook and glasses

It is important that teachers identify the most frequently used command words in the GCSE exam question for their own subjects. Students need to understand these words in different contexts and practise ways of responding to them. Teaching students that certain command words require particular language to be included in a spoken or written response will develop their literacy skills. For example, the command word 'discuss' necessitates the use of modal verbs to show alternative arguments. The command word 'explain' suggests the need for causal discourse markers such as 'therefore', 'because' or 'as a result'.

Do remember, though - the specific meaning and implication of a command word can vary between subjects so take this poster as guidance only.

This document was taken from our training in Disciplinary Literacy for GCSEs - explore our secondary training courses.

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