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The “describe” command term in a Short Answer Question (SAQ) requires that you give a detailed account of a concept, theory, or study.

For example, you might be asked to describe localisation with reference to one relevant study, one study investigating a model of memory, or one cultural dimension with reference to one relevant study. You are being asked to demonstrate knowledge and understanding by learning and comprehending the meaning of psychological information. Note that this “describe” command term – together with “identify” and “outline” – is considered the least challenging.

Though the focus of your response should be on the description, you should also provide definitions of key terms and theoretical context. For example: What is meant by localisation of brain function? What is a model of memory? What is a cultural dimension? Using concrete examples can be an effective way to demonstrate your general understanding of the concept or theory, but avoid personal anecdotes.

Think carefully about the study you plan to describe. As you are required to provide a detailed account, only write about studies you know in detail. You should provide an account of the following:

  • The name(s) of the investigator(s)
  • The date the study was published
  • The research question or aim
  • The type of study undertaken
  • The sample and sampling method (if known)
  • The procedures
  • The results (you do not have to remember the actual statistics, but you do need to be able to describe the overall results)
  • The conclusions.

Finally, you need to link the study explicitly to the question. That is, be clear, exact, and express your answer without vagueness.

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