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Please read the instruction(s) in exercise 1.

or

Please read an instruction in exercise 1.

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I like the first one better. Unless (in the second one) the exercise has many instructions, and we are being requested to read just one of them. –  GEdgar Jan 15 '12 at 18:03
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Jan 16 '12 at 11:25

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the convention is to use:

Please read the instruction(s) in exercise 1.

So I recommend this.

In the second sentence:

Please read an instruction in exercise 1.

"an instruction" implies that you are allowing the reader to simply choose any instruction in exercise 1 and start reading it. In most cases, this is not so. Usually when you are telling someone to read an instruction, you are talking about a specific instruction and not requesting him / her to just pick any random guideline or instruction and start reading it.

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