The command terms are the verbs (doing words) associated with the objectives. The command terms will be used in the relevant examination questions.

The follwing are the command terms associated with Objective 1:

  • Define
  • Draw
  • Label
  • List
  • Measure
  • State

On the whole, I think they are self explanatory, although I think ‘define’, ‘list’ and ‘state’ deserve a little bit more of an explanation.

Define – if a student is asked to define something, the examiner will be looking for a precise meaning (eg, define first ionisation energy is NOT the energy needed to remove an electron!) – what is it? Answers below please!

List – an examiner is just after a list, nothing more – explanations are not required (often, students actually give reasons with their lists when they do not need to).

An example of this question would be along the lines of ‘list the source of electrons in the mass spectrometer’ – answer = electron gun.

State – similar to ‘list’ above. The examiner is just after a word or value – no further explanation is required (or if the examiner is after a numerical answer, no calculation is needed – remind your students of this. If they are reaching for their calculator when a question has asked them to ‘state’ something, they are doing something wrong!)

An example of this question will be something like ‘state the number of outer shell electrons in potassium’.

Tomorrow, we will consider the command terms from objective 2.