Skip to main content

Command Words – Describe

Watch this to unpack ‘describe’ questions in Higher PE (and how childhood games can help)

search thinkfour.

My favorite game as a kid? That’s easy – Guess Who. I found it so funny.

You have to guess the mystery face on your opponents’ card. You ask descriptive questions like – their hairstyle, their eye colour and eliminate possibilities from a load of silly faces as you go along. The better you are at describing a picture helps you to eliminate them quicker and therefore increases your chances of winning and I took winning very seriously.

This skill in describing what something looks like, rather than why it is like that, is important for Higher PE too.

Let me tell you what I mean…

This is thinkfour.

In PE, when you are asked to describe an activity, the examiners seek something very specific. It is straightforward, but often confused by students with other command words. You are being asked ‘what’, not ‘why’.

‘Describe’ sounds simple, and it is. Paint a picture of how something looked, or how it was set up without saying why.

Firstly, make your statements short and sharp. Try to be concise with phrases like, ‘ Firstly, I arranged the…’ and ‘then I placed the…’.

You might, for example, be describing a method of developing a particular physical factor. Your focus could be on developing agility and you have selected to describe the Illinois Agility Test.

Be careful to avoid slip ups in using language that lead you away from description and into deeper explanation.

Terms to avoid in a describe question might include THEREFORE, THIS MEANT, BECAUSE and SO THAT.

These connecting words will often lead you into telling the reader why you are doing something, but, in the case of a describe question, this is not what you need.

There are certain variables you should consider in your answer to provide depth, detail and help you to secure marks.

Who, what, where, when and how? By using these key words, it will provide you with a good structure to your answer.

Who set it up? myself and and another classmate set up the test.
What were you carrying out? What equipment was needed?

I was carrying out the Illinois agility test and I needed a measuring tape, cones, a stop watch and a partner to record my time.

Where was it conducted? This test took place in the Sports Hall at my school.

When was it carried out? This test took place on a Tuesday during my PE lesson period 4.
How- list without justifying, how did you progress, how did you monitor? I achieved a time of 15.6 seconds for the test. I can use this time as a baseline figure before I do a training program and retest after I have completed it.

Using these key words will help you give an account of your testing in chronological order.

When you select a sub factor, it’s really important to use the FIPS table to check the approach you have chosen is in the same titled column.

If it’s a mental factor, check it’s a mental approach to developing your performance.

At times it can be easy to lose the thread of your reasoning in your answers. Once you think you have answered the question, leave it and come back to it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, have I answered the question?

So.. I was the Guess Who champion in our family.

I knew what was needed and I did it quickly. While other people got side-tracked, I stuck to the basics: I could build up a clear picture in my head of the faces using the information provided.

If you can give the examiner the detailed information they need to picture your PE set-up, without getting side-tracked into explaining why you did it, then you are on the right track in your describe questions.

You can win at Higher PE, no guessing required.

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.