The understated but powerful 'terms'

Oh so humble.  Oh so powerful!  The very understated 'terms' are the knowledge backbone of any subject, yet we can never find a comprehensive glossary list in any textbook, just the most common 10 or so.  Terms are a whole little language dedicated to just that subject.  How difficult would it be to learn Spanish or French without learning every single word?  Heaps hard.

So what are we expected to do with terms? 

We need to understand each one fully.  This knowledge will make answering most exam questions easy and save heaps of time and stress trying to guess answers in the exam.   Think of term cards as single-answer question cards when you study them just one way.  Double-answer question cards when you study them both ways.

Here are all the types of questions where knowledge of terms are needed in exams:


Do you see? Knowing your terms lifts your game.  

Even if you’re not quizzed on their meanings directly, you will take your written essay answers to the next level if you can use them and articulate their meanings clearly. 

But it’s not good enough to know kind-of-sort-of-ish-ish what they mean.  No.  You have to be able to actually articulate the term accurately in your own words.  If you can’t do this then you’ll be throwing marks away.  You know those questions worth 2 or 3 marks?

Knowing your terms will make sure you get all those marks and not just 1 because you kinda-looked-like-you-knew what it was but you just couldn’t get that explanation over the line. 

And we'll say it again - knowing your terms saves you heaps of time trying to think about how to describe/explain something in the exam, writing it down and scratching it out because something better came to mind.  KNOW YOUR TERMS!

  1.    Multiple choice

  2.    Define these terms 

  3.    What is the difference between x and y? 

  4.    Match the term to the definition

  5.    Label the diagram

  6.    Fill in the blanks

  7.    Name the process where ...... 

  8.    What is the odd one out?

  9. Essay or extended response

And only when you can actually articulate that term in your own words, can you really understand it and commit it to memory.  It’s not easy being able to explain something so succinctly that everyone understands what it means right away.  Funnily enough, you need to be able to explain them in 'layman's terms'.  When you can explain a term like this then you've nailed it.  That learning process demands not just simple recall but proper understanding. 

Study tip!

Don’t try to learn term definitions word for word – you will lose their power because you won’t fully understand how to incorporate them into different contexts.  Strive to understand and articulate them in your own words for serious exam firing power.

Make sure you study terms in reverse too - you won't know them properly if you can't do this. 

Did we say 'you need to articulate the term in your own words'? You get it.


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