Synonyms and paraphrasing

In order to make the exams more challengings the authors of texts and tapescripts are using synonyms and paraphrasing techniques in their works. It means that keywords in questions and the texts they relate to will be different in form, keeping the same meaning. Even though it sounds complicated, the example below will make it more clear. We will be using the same John’s work example question that we illustrated the concept of keywords  with:

Choose two aspects of John’s work that the professor didn’t like:

a) headings

b) overall structure

c) reference section

d) volume

e) supplementary materials

The underlined parts of text are keywords. They will help us to answer the question.

John – a proper name and therefore it can’t be changed in any way. This makes it very easy to hear in a recording or spot in a text.

Didn’t like – can be easily changed. Some examples: disliked, wansn’t fond of, was dissatisfied with, was upset about; the list can be continued almost indefinitely, with little to no change in the phrase meaning.

Same changes can occur in the answer options. Examples:

a) headings – not much room for changes here, so it is likely to remain the same

b) overall structure – both words might be paraphrased: general structure, overall organization

c) reference section – reference can be changed to quote or citation

d) volume – paraphrased as number of pages or size of work

e) supplementary – can be changed to additional, attached

NB: this paraphrasing list is by no means complete and be easily extended if one was so inclined. It is here only to showcase the concept of changing word forms.

Now that you are familiar with this idea, it would be nice if you used it in your speaking and writing. You might find this list of most used words and their synonyms most useful. Remember: repeating the same word will reduce your mark in both speaking and writing.

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