How to improve work with the UDS method

This has an example of how to use the UDS method to do good work.


This page shows a task set by a science teacher, followed by an answer from an ESL student. Both the task and the answer are authentic.

The analysis and the suggested alternative answer are based on the UDS method. It is advisable to read about UDS first.


Man carries out many activities which may result in him polluting the environment in which he lives. Describe one example of pollution of our environment; explain what causes the pollution, what effects it has on the environment and how this type of pollution can be prevented in the future. (Question in a grade 9 science test.)

Note: The words were also bolded in the original question.

Student answer

People drive cars which results in automobile exhaust fumes. There is no way to stop people driving cars but we can prevent it if we try a little bit. We can ride a bike if we go to a near place, it helps your body too.

Analysis of the answer

The student has clearly Understood the task. But has not given all of the information the teacher asked for. In other words, he or she has not Done what was required.

Furthermore, the answer does not repeat all the keywords from the question or use good topic sentences. These are aspects of Showing that you have done what was asked.

Finally, the answer contains the irrelevant detail about helping your body. This is not in itself a bad idea. But, in an exam, if too much that was not asked for is included, there will be less time to answer all the other questions.

Applying the UDS method

A good way to apply the UDS method for a task like this is to first write a quick outline. For example:

Example: Air pollution
Cause: Car exhaust fumes
Effect: Acid rain
Prevention: Use public transport, power cars with renewable energy

In some cases, the outline alone may be all that the teacher is expecting. If a more detailed answer is required, the outline could be expanded as follows.

One example of environmental pollution is air pollution. There are many things that result in air pollution, but one important cause is the exhaust fumes emitted by cars and trucks. These fumes rise into the atmosphere and the effect is acid rain. When the rain falls it damages people and buildings. A good way to prevent some of this air pollution is to reduce the amount of traffic on the road. People should be encouraged to use public transport instead of private cars.

Note the bolding of the keywords from the original question. These make it easy for the teacher to see that the student has done what was asked for. Seeing is proof of the S(howing) in UDS.

Of course, the above answer could be much expanded. Each of the four sections could contain paragraphs headed by a topic sentence such as those present in the shorter answer.