Hints for Answering Identification Questions
Write one to four sentences that clearly characterize who or what these people, places, things, or
events were. Be sure to show why these people, places, etc. were or are important.
Be specific. For instance,
- When identifying a person, mention
- the country or region where he/she lived (if that information is available in the text),
- the important events he/she was involved in, or the achievements that made him/her famous
- his/her religion or belief system if that is relevant, that is, if religion or belief system has to do
with what made the person famous. In the case of Saladin, for example, it is important to
mention that he was Muslim, because what made him famous was his part in a religious war
between Christians and Muslims. In the case of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, religion did not
play such a great role in the events that made Francis Ferdinand so important historically, so
you would not need to mention his religion.
- the time when he or she lived (this does not always mean mentioning specific dates;
mentioning wars and other events that the person was involved in, and approximate times
when the wars took place, may be sufficient).
- When identifying an event, state
- when the event occurred (the more exact you can be, the better, but for events of the medieval
period and earlier, approximate dates are often acceptable),
- where the event occurred,
- the people or countries involved,
- what the event included or involved,
- why it occurred, if that information is available (for example, when identifying a war, you
should say why the war was fought, if that is known).
- When identifying a place, state
- where the place is (or was) located,
- why the place is famous (for example, mention important events that happened there, and if
possible, when these events occurred).
- When identifying a thing, state
- what it is or was (a document, an invention, an idea, etc.)
- what it includes or involves or does,
- when it appeared or when it became important (again, you need not mention exact years if you
can situate the thing among major events),
- why it is famous or historically important.
- Example: Identify trench warfare.
A good answer: A type of combat where soldiers fired on their enemies while sheltering
themselves in long fortified ditches (called "trenches") dug in the ground, often for weeks at a
time. This type of fighting became one of the main forms of combat in World War One, partly
because of the development of the machine gun. (This answer would still be adequate if it did not
mention machine guns.)
Not a good answer (this answer would get less than half credit): A way soldiers fought in World
War One. (The reason why this answer would not get much credit is that there were many other
ways soldiers fought in World War One: air combat, traditional cavalry and infantry charges,
use of early automobiles and submarines equipped with weapons, etc. This answer does not
explain what kind of fighting trench warfare is.)
An answer that would receive no credit at all: Warfare that uses trenches. (This answer simply
repeats the question without answering it.)
Get the idea? If it's still not clear, e-mail me and I'll try to explain further:
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