What are Keywords & Why are they Crucial

What are Keywords & Why are they Crucial

I’m sure you’ve heard teachers and tutors go on and on about finding the ‘key words’ and using them to answer the question. Before we get into why this is important, let’s reflect on what keywords are.

  • Key words are usually found at the start of a question.
  • A good way to spot them is to remember that they might be verbs. These may include verbs like ‘respond’, ‘discuss’ or ‘evaluate’.
  • They could also be adverbs such as ‘what’ or ‘how’!
  • They also include thematic words e.g. in the question ‘How does this author explore the theme of love?’ ‘love’ would be the thematic word.
  • They are also words that specify the format e.g. essay, research report, dot points…

You may think teachers just throw different words into a question for no apparent reason, but in reality, they are trying to tell you something. They are telling you HOW they want you to answer the question. For example, in a question that asks you ‘How does the character feel after experiencing the flood?’ you should explain their emotions and give examples from the text about HOW they reacted. And guess what? Simply answering a question using the key words and the correct format can up your mark a lot!

A list of all HSC Keywords can be found on the NESA website: A Glossary of Keywords.

So, how do you make sure you find all the key words and incorporate them all into your answer?

  1. Read the question closely and carefully
  2. Avoid just copying a response and ALWAYS answer the question instead
  3. Only write information that is relevant to the question
  4. Underline all the keywords so you do not forget about them

How does finding key words help students sitting an exam?

  • Key words in the exam paper provide information on what sections should be attempted and in what manner, as well as the time allocated.
  • This helps students to achieve top marks because they mean that every component of the question has been answered.
  • You can practice locating key terms and words by looking at what past papers are available and practice highlighting or underlining the necessary terms.
  • Don’t forget to also look at the sample answers for past papers to check out the ways in which other students used the key words to answer questions!
  • Rereading responses and marking the points at which the key words are referenced or explicitly addressed can be useful.

At MWNS, we always make sure to take our students through papers and questions to familiarise them with the types of questions they will be asked and educate them on how they should approach each question. If you are one of our students, don’t be afraid to bring in your own questions as well!

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