BlogStudyThe Ultimate List of QCAA Cognitive Verbs That You Need To Know

The Ultimate List of QCAA Cognitive Verbs That You Need To Know

Blank Notebook Pages - QCAA Cognitive Verbs

Working on your assessment but struggling to figure out what the question really wants you to answer? Look no further, as we’ve created the ultimate guide to QCAA cognitive verbs!

This list features all the key terms that you should look out for before you begin answering your question. We’ve even included a few of the uncommon ones that may pop up and surprise you.

Let’s dive into the list of QCAA cognitive verbs!

QCAA Cognitive Verbs 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


To examine or consider something for the purpose of finding meaning or identifying similarities and differences.

Example: “Analyse how the text uses literary devices to explore the complexities of the human experience.”

Meaning: The markers are asking you to identify and examine the key literary devices that communicate the central ideas of the text. To tackle this question, you should use the ‘TEE’ method (technique, example, effect) for 2-3 different ideas focused on the human experience. 

E.g. “The complexities of the human experience in [text] is explored through the symbolism of….(include a quote and key scene breakdown to show how the techniques reveal complexities). 

Check out more on textual analysis here!


To use your own knowledge and understanding in response to a particular situation.


To evaluate the significance of a text or piece of work. 


To recognise the value or worth of something. 


To raise points to prove or challenge an issue.


To make an evaluative judgement on the value, results, nature, or extent of something.


To find a numerical answer by using mathematical processes.


To assign something to a particular class or group. 


To clearly explain a statement or situation to make it more understandable.  


To arrange something in classes or categories based on shared qualities or characteristics.


To give a written or verbal opinion, observation or reaction.  


To convey your knowledge and understanding.


To recognise similarities and differences and identify their significance.

Example: “Compare how Text 1 and Text 3 explore the human experience of belonging.”

Meaning: The marker is asking you to identify the different characteristics of each text and analyse their functions. To answer this question you should use detailed and well-chosen examples and examine their similarities and differences in exploring the human experience of belonging.

E.g. “In Text 1, the narrator’s pursuit for belonging is shown through [technique and quote], whereas Text 3’s use of [technique and quote] illustrates the attainment of self-esteem gained from belonging.


To understand the meaning or nature of something. 


To organise and carry out an action. 


To deliberately take something into account before making a judgement.


To create something, such as an argument, by arranging ideas or items into a logical form.


To recognise the differences between two or more items or situations by juxtaposing the contrary elements.


To bring something into existence by putting elements together to form a functional whole.  

Example: “Create a short story which has a central concept of alienation, as represented in ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

Meaning: When the marker asks you to create a short story they want you to write a piece of text that links to the key ideas, attitudes, values or beliefs that underpins the original work. In this example question you’d want to draw influence from ‘Frankenstein’, either through character, setting, point of view, techniques or narrative type, to create a succinct story with strong theme exploration. 


To review something by providing a detailed analysis and critical assessment, usually involving a theory, practice or performance.


To reach a resolution by considering a number of alternatives. 


To reach a logical conclusion by relying on the information given to you.


To give the meaning or identify qualities of a word, phrase, concept of physical quantity. 


To prove an argument by using practical examples to show your reasoning.  


To manipulate a mathematical relationship to give a new equation and obtain the derivative of a function. 


To give either a written or spoken account of something that has occurred, such as a situation, event, pattern, or process.

Example: “Describe how the text expresses connection to home.”

Meaning: The question is asking you to identify the features of the text and go into detail about its characteristics. Ideally, you should try and include every possible feature that you can think of.


To produce a plan, simulation, model or similar of something before it is made. In English, this involves using particular elements, such as words, images, sounds etc., for text construction. 


To come to a resolution through observation, investigation or calculation. 


To elaborate on a point or argument in detail to make it more complex.


To plan something. 


To identify difference/s in or between two or more things. In maths, this means to obtain the derivative of a function.


To recognise a difference. 


To examine an argument by considering the different ideas for and/or against the topic, and using supporting evidence to form a conclusion.

Example: “Discuss how your prescribed text uses its media and form to explore the power of human emotions.”

Meaning: This question is asking you to write about a variety of ideas for or against your argument. For this example, you should describe the characteristics of the text’s media and form and explain their function to reach a judgment on its impact in exploring the power of human emotions.

E.g. The text’s use of three first-person narratives is used to [describe effect] and is a key storytelling element that explores the power of human emotions. 


To recognise points of difference  between two or more concepts or items. 


To support something, such as an argument or claim, with evidence. 


To make a judgement about something based on assessing its strengths, limitations, and implications.

Example: “Evaluate how the author uses evocative imagery to represent the relationship between individual and collective human experiences.”

Meaning: This question is calling on you to make a judgement on the value and effectiveness of the text. In this example, you’ll need to provide 2-3 examples that use evocative imagery and analyse their value in representing the relationship between individual and collective human experiences.

E.g. “The [author’s] use of evocative imagery in the line [insert quote] powerfully illuminates the [describe relationship between individual and collective human experiences and how the quote adds value to the representation].


To consider or discuss an argument by inspecting the nature of the issue to uncover any assumptions or interrelationships. 


To carry out something in accordance with a plan, order or course of action.


To test out new ideas or methods to test a hypothesis, make a discovery or demonstrate a known fact. 


To clearly present an idea or situation by describing it in more detail to provide additional information.

Example: “Explain how the author uses language to invite the reader to share her experiences.”

Meaning: The marker wants you to identify different language techniques and explain their effect in detail in relation to human experiences. For the example question, you’ll want to choose 2-3 language techniques to explore, particularly those that explicitly engage with the reader.

E.g. “In [scene] the author’s use of metaphor communicates [emotion/idea] stemming from the human experience of…


To inquire into or discuss something in detail.


To convey something e.g. a thought, opinion, emotion.


To make inferences based on known information to extend the application of something, such as a method or conclusion, by assuming that existing trends will continue, or similar methods will be applicable.


To produce something. 


To theorise an outcome based on known facts or observed occurrences, especially when there is limited evidence that needs further investigation.


To recognise and name a distinguishing factor or feature from a number of possibilities.


To bring something into effect e.g. a plan.  


To make a conclusion based on evidence and reasoning beyond what has been literally expressed.


To draw meaning from something, such as a performance or graph, using your own knowledge and understanding.

Example: “Interpret the director’s use of a monochromatic colour scheme during moments of emotional tension.”

Meaning: To answer this question the marker wants you to draw meaning from the given characteristic and explain its impact. In this case, the use of a monochromatic colour scheme is the feature that you should focus on using your own knowledge of its purpose, and apply it to the situation of emotional tension. 

E.g. “Symbolic of [effect], the director’s use of a monochromatic colour scheme during [scene] illustrates the internal turmoil experienced by the protagonist. 


To carry out research or a formal inquiry to uncover facts and draw new conclusions about data and information. 


To form an opinion or conclusion about something. 


To provide evidence to support that your answer is reasonable.

Make Decisions

To select from available options and weigh up the positives and negatives before arriving at a position


To make changes to suit one’s purpose. 


To make partial or minor changes to something. 


To arrange something, especially for united action. 


To suggest an expected result based on the available information.


To put forward (e.g. a suggestion, argument, point of view) for consideration by others.


To use a sequence of formal steps to achieve the required result.


To make something real or concrete. 


To present remembered ideas, facts, or experiences.


To identify features of information from knowledge of appearance or character.

Reflect On

To consider or think carefully about something.

Example: “Reflect on how the composer of your text uses storytelling to challenge readers’ perspectives about the human experience.”

Meaning: Using 2-3 examples with quotes and techniques, the question is asking you to carefully consider the different ways in which the composer has used storytelling to challenge assumptions about the human experience. This is a good question to discuss the contextual background of the text!

E.g. During [scene], the composer’s use of storytelling through [technique] challenges readers’ perspectives about the human experience by [explain effect of technique].


In the arts, this means to communicate intent and express meaning through different ideas and the application of media. 


To choose something in preference to another.


To arrange something in a continuous or connected series.


To produce a drawing or painting in simple form without detail or accuracy. In maths, this means to represent the general idea of the required shape or relationship through a diagram or graph. 


To work out the answer or solution to a problem.


To construct or arrange something according to a plan.


To provide a brief statement of the major points or general theme.

Example: “Summarise the functions of the nervous system.”

Meaning: The marker is looking for a concise response that clearly states the main points. In this case, you should state the key functions of the nervous system and provide relevant information about the characteristics of each feature.

E.g. “A primary function of the nervous system is [provide example of feature], which is responsible for [provide detail of feature’s characteristics].


To represent something through a symbol. 


To combine different parts into a whole to create new understanding.


To take measures establish the quality, performance or reliability of something.


To be familiar with the meaning of something e.g. an idea, a word, a symbol. 


To apply knowledge or rules to put theory into effect. 

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Ashley Sullivan is a Content Writer for Art of Smart Education and is currently undertaking a double degree in Communications (Journalism) and a Bachelor of Laws at UTS. Ashley’s articles have been published in The Comma and Central News. She is a film, fashion and fiction enthusiast who enjoys learning about philosophy, psychology and unsolved mysteries in her spare time.

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