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Bloom's taxonomy is of vital importance here. The idea of "Assessing" questions rank fairly high on Bloom's taxonomy of learning. It involves taking multiple elements as you answer the question. For example, when you have to assess something, it requires you to pull from different sides of a topic. In my mind, the "assess" question will force you to pull from different elements on a given topic. You might have to debate both sides of an issue and end up "assessing" which side has more validity or veracity in your own mind. When you "assess" something, it requires examining as many aspects as possible of the topic area. An "assess" question is in the "synthesis" or "evaluation" portion of Bloom's taxonomy. This means that multiple skills are needed in completing a task of this nature. For an "assess" question, you will need to demonstrate a strong grasp of the particular topic with specific facts and individual components of understanding, along with a larger sense of being able to bring purpose and meaning to the topic area, in general. Both elements of "what is needed to be known" and "why it is important" will be required in answering this particular question.
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