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Ten words most commonly found in directions to students on standardized tests. This list was generated by Kechia Williams, classroom practicioner and author for Scholastic.
  1. Analyze: Explain how each part functions or fits into the whole. Write the obvious as well as the hidden characteristics or meanings. This can be very difficult for 6th graders; they tend to respond on the surface without digging deep.
  2. Persuade (variations: Argue, Convince) Give a point of view! Take a stand and defend one side of an issue. Give facts, statistics, beliefs, opinions, and your personal view. Show passion when you are defending your side. Teach students to argue through persuasive writing and debate.
  3. Compare: Students sometimes confuse comparing and contrasting. Remind them that comparing provides common characteristics, identifying how things are alike or similar. Analyzing differences and similarities helps students gain a greater understanding of the material.
  4. Contrast: Contrasts provide the characteristics that are not alike. How are people, events, or objects different?
  5. Summarize: Sum it up! Give the meaning in a concise way using as few words as possible. Students may have problems deciding what is most important in the piece of literature, and they end up writing entirely too much. Summarizing requires students to synthesize and restate key points from text in a sentence or short paragraph.
  6. Demonstrate: When they see this word, students need to know that they must provide a step-by-step procedure to show how to do something.
  7. Describe: Present a clear picture of a person, place, thing or idea.
  8. Explain: Give clear descriptions of an event, object or idea. I tell them to add to their explanation by providing details based on answers to these questions.
  9. Interpret: Understanding of the passage from one’s own perspective.
  10. Infer: Read between the lines; the answer is not in the passage. The reader derives meaning from information or clues that the author provides. Students have to be able to figure out the author's clues. If the student does not understand the material, he will not be able to answer an inferential type question.