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Command words

Command words are the words and phrases used in exams and other assessment tasks that tell students how they should answer the question.

The following command words are taken from Ofqual’s official list. Their meanings are relevant to this subject.


In probability, ‘estimate’ implies using probability to estimate how many times an outcome might occur in a certain number of trials.

The word may also be used to reference a sample value being used to give an idea of a population value

Give your answer in its simplest form…

Cancel down a fraction as far as possible.

Show that…

Use words, numbers or algebra to show an answer.

Work out…

Normally means a calculation is involved but may be able to be done mentally.


Will need a calculation that requires a calculator.

Use the graph

Do not calculate, read from the graph.

Give an exact value

In probability, this would imply the need for a fraction.

Give answer to a suitable/appropriate degree of accuracy

For example, if the question has values to two significant figures (sf), then give the give answer to two sf.

Complete the table

During marking, answers seen in the table take priority over answers seen in any working space or lines.


Used for questionnaires and response sections, eg design an appropriate response section for this question.

Give answer to two decimal places (dp)/the nearest integer

Give answer to required accuracy. Students will lose a mark if they don’t do this.

Not drawn accurately

Written by a diagram to discourage measuring.

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