One to four mark questions

One to four mark questions will start with command words such as 'describe' or 'explain'. Some command words are easy to understand such as:

  • 'calculate' or 'determine' for maths questions
  • 'complete' to fill in a gap in a table or graph
  • 'define' to give the meaning of an important word
  • 'suggest' where you use your knowledge in an unfamiliar situation
  • 'compare' where you describe the similarities and/or differences between things

The command words 'describe' and 'explain' can be confusing. If you are asked to describe a graph, you will be expected to write about its overall shape, whether it is linear or curved, the slope of gradients etc. If you are asked to explain why a pattern or trend is seen in a graph, you will be expected to use your science knowledge, not just say what you see (which is a description), eg the graph shows a steep linear increase for the first three hours because…

Explain how and why questions often have the word 'because' in their answer. Describe questions don't.

The number of marks per question part is given in this form '[2 marks]'. It is essential that you give two different answers if a question is worth two marks. Sometimes you can gain a second mark by giving the units in a calculation or stating specific data points, eg during the first two years the number of lions deceased by seven.

You will be expected to write in more depth for three and four mark questions. They might ask you about a process such as the carbon cycle or the method you would use in an experiment.

These questions have been written by Bitesize consultants as suggestions to the types of questions that may appear in an exam paper.

Sample question 1 - Foundation

Question

Hedgehogs are carnivores. What does the term carnivore mean? [1 mark]

A carnivore eats other animals

Question

The diagram below shows a woodland food web that includes hedgehogs.

Food web showing foxes, hedgehogs, badges, worms, slugs and beetles

Use information in the food web and your own knowledge to answer the following question. In recent years, the number of hedgehogs in the UK has decreased.

Tick (✓) the three factors in the following table that could cause hedgehog numbers to decrease. [3 marks]

FactorCauses hedgehog numbers to decline?
A disease that harms badgers
An increase in the number of foxes
The arrival of a new second stage consumer species
An increase in the number of beetles
A decrease in the area of woodland
FactorCauses hedgehog numbers to decline?
A disease that harms badgers
An increase in the number of foxes
The arrival of a new second stage consumer species
An increase in the number of beetles
A decrease in the area of woodland

One mark is given for each correct row but marks are taken away for each extra tick.

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Question

Define transpiration. Include the names of vessels involved in your answer. [2 marks]

Transpiration is the movement of water through xylem vessels from plant roots to their leaves for photosynthesis.

Sample question 3 - Foundation

Question

State the word equation for photosynthesis. [2 marks]

Carbon dioxide + water → glucose + oxygen

Sample question 4 - Higher

Question

Give the balanced symbol equation for photosynthesis. [2 marks]

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

Sample question 5 - Higher

Question

Describe what plants compete for. [4 marks]

  • Light
  • Space
  • Water
  • Minerals from the soil