Key Words for Critical Thinking, Editing + Essay Questions
Learning how to learn and how to think are two keys tools writers need.
I received these key words in eighth grade from Mrs. Maffei at Saint Francis Catholic School in Sonoma. (Yes, a Jewish girl got some Catholic school.)
Mrs. Maffei had us writing essays and using these key words to answer the questions in depth.
Even though I received this list over 30 years ago, I still use the concepts in my nonfiction writing today.
I hope they will help you in your writing too.
Look for qualities or characteristics that resemble each other. Emphasize similarities among them, but in some case also mention differences.
Address the dissimilarities, difference or unlikeness of things, qualities, events, or problems.
Express your judgement about the merit or truth of the factors or views mentioned. Give the results of your analysis of these factors discussing their limitations and good points.
Give concise, clear, and authoritative meanings. Don’t give details but make sure to give the limits of the definition. Show how the thing you are defining differs from things in other classes.
Recount, characterize, sketch, or relate in sequence or story form.
Give a drawing, chart, plan or graphic answer. Usually you should label a diagram. In some cases, add a brief explanation or description.
Determine, analyze carefully and give reasons pro and con. Be complete and give details.
Write in list or outline form, giving points concisely one by one.
Carefully appraise the problem, citing both advantages and limitations. Emphasize the appraisal of authorities and, to a lesser degree, your person evaluation.
Clarify, interpret, and spell out the material you present. Give reasons for difference of opinion or of results, and try to analyze causes.
Use a figure, picture, diagram or concrete example to explain or clarify a problem.
Translate, give examples of, solve or comment on a subject, usually gibing your judgment about it.
Give reasons for decisions or conclusion, taking pains to be convincing.
As in “ENUMERATE,” write an itemized series of concise statements.
Organize a description under main points, omitting minor details and stressing the arrangements or classification of things.
Establish that something is true by citing actual evidence or giving clear, logical reasons.
Show how things are related to or connected with each other, correlate with others, or are like another.
Examine a subject, critically analyzing and commenting on the important statements to be made about it.
Present the main points in a brief, clear sequence usually omitting details, illustrations or examples.
Have the main points or facts in condensed form, like the summary of a chapter, omitting details and illustrations.
In narrative form, describe progress, development, or historical events from the point of origin.