IB Command Terms

AO1: Knowledge and Understanding

  • Describe: Give a detailed account.
  • Identify: Provide an answer from a number of possibilities
  • Outline: Give a brief account or summary

AO2: Application and analysis

  • Comment: Give a judgment based on a given statement or result of a calculation.
  • Explain: Give a detailed account including reasons or causes.
  • Suggest: Propose a solution, hypothesis or other possible answer

NB: SAQs will always use the AO1 or AO2 command terms above, however it is unlikely that paper 1 questions will include identify, comment or suggest and these will probably be reserved for paper 3 only.

AO3: Synthesis and evaluation
These terms require you to construct an argument (for and against for example) and/or make a judgment based on research evidence and applications to real life. You can also include compare and contrast with other areas of theory as part of an evaluation.

  • Contrast Give an account of the differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout.
  • Discuss Offer a considered and balanced review that includes a range of arguments, factors or hypotheses. Opinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.
  • Evaluate Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations.
  • To what extent Consider the merits or otherwise of an argument or concept. Opinions and conclusions should be presented clearly and supported with appropriate evidence and sound argument.

NB Section B essays and Paper 2 essays will always use one of the 4 AO3 command terms.

assessment objectives IB 2019