How to Answer Questions 2
In recognition of my P+L teacher, most of the examples are taken from the Politics and Law course.
To go back to part 1, click here.
SOSE/Science (Short Answer)
• Be short and straight to the point. Don’t waffle on and on.
• Do not repeat the question in answer. I know this contradicts what many teachers say, but it’s just a waste of time and you don’t get any marks for it.
• Read the question carefully and make sure you understand it before answering the question, or else you may end up answering a different question entirely. Some friends of mine received 0 out of 8 marks because they misread the question. It helps to highlight or underline the important parts of the question.
Discuss the enforcement procedures that can be used by the courts if an order or judgement is not complied with.
The phrase ‘order or judgement’ in that context always means a civil remedy, but it is not really clear if you just skim over it. They thought it meant criminal sanctions, and dedicated their answer based on that.
• Consider how much each question is worth. If a question is worth 3 marks, you only need 3 points or facts, and you don’t need an entire essay.
The following is a list of directions that the question may contain, and tips on how to answer them.
List – List three differences between criminal and civil disputes. This simply asks you to give specific information in the form of a list. Start each point on a new line and number them so it shows the marker that you have done it. So, for example,
1. Criminal proceedings occur between an individual and the state, whilst civil disputes are between private entities.
Outline – Outline three branches of government. Similar to ‘list’, it usually requires you to list the information, then give a brief description. It helps if you state the point first before outlining it. E.g.
1. Judiciary: the body that interprets legislation and applies them …
Compare/Contrast/Differentiate – Differentiate between a gag and a guillotine. You are asked to identify the distinguishing features of each subject and point out why they are similar or different. My teacher was very picky, and would not give full marks unless your answer contained ‘however’, ‘whereas’ or a similar distinguishing phrase. Gags are … whereas guillotines are ….
Discuss/Evaluate – Discuss the ways in which the American political and legal system has influenced the Australian ones. Point out the important features, but also elaborate in more detail and expand on your answer. Depending on the question, you may have to form a critical opinion and consider differing opinions on the topic.
For the example, I would answer it by listing the ways, explaining them, and then considering if those ways are positive or negative using examples. If the question said ‘evaluate’ I would probably also consider how much it of a factor it actually is.
Advantage/Disadvantage – Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the proportional system of voting. Clearly indicate where you have put the advantages and disadvantages. Start each point on a new line.
e.g. Adv: 1. More minor party representation ….
2. More representative of the electorate ….
Dis: 1. Leads to unstable government ….
Explain/Define – Explain the term ‘rule of law’. Usually, it refers to a phrase or term. You need to expand on the phrase, clarify it and interpret it into plain language. You do not need to repeat the term in your answer. Most importantly, don’t use the term to define itself – I have heard of people who, when asked to define ‘defendant’, answered ‘someone who defends themself.’ The answer to the original example: the rule of law is a system where the rights of individual are protected by restricting the power of those in power, namely, by ….
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