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Interpreting short answer tasks

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Puzzle

Below you will find two examples of short answer tasks. Try to a) interpret what the task wants you to do and b) summarize briefly how you would solve this task.

Afterwards, you can press the Solution-button and see an example of how an English teacher has interpreted these tasks.

Example task 1:

“Breaches and violations of norms and rules can make newspaper headlines. Create a short text showing what kinds of breaches of norms and rules you may find in the profession or trade you are aiming for. Do you think any of these breaches could become newspaper headlines?”

Solution

The instruction verb “to show/showing” is a synonym of “to explain”. Here, the main task is to explain normal breaches of norms and rules in your future job.
A useful way of solving this task would be to start by explaining what “breaches of norms and rules” mean and which occupation you are aiming for, before you write about some common breaches of norms and rules you may find in that trade. You should focus on 2-3 breaches, as this is a limited task. Make sure that you end your task with some sentences where you consider whether any of the breaches you have mentioned could become newspaper headlines and why/why not you think so.

Example task 2:

“The two news articles [in the appendix] are about the same type of crime: joyriding. Create a short text in which you briefly comment on the differences in language, content and the journalists’ attitudes”.

Solution

The instruction verb “comment on” requires you to explain the difference between the two news articles. The task clearly asks you to focus on differences in language, content and the journalists’ attitudes and your job is to make these differences clear.
A useful way of solving this task would be to start with explaining differences in language, then move on to differences in content, and end with how these differences are affected by the journalists’ attitudes. Make sure that you use examples from the news articles you are provided in your text.

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