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


State what carcinogens cause? [1 mark]

Cancer [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


How many parents are involved in asexual reproduction? [1 mark]

One [1]

Sample question 3 - Foundation


How many times do cells divide in meiosis? [1 mark]

Twice [1]

Sample question 4 - Higher


State what gamma rays, X-rays and ultraviolet rays are? [1 mark]

Types of ionising radiation [1]

Sample question 5 - Higher


Describe the difference between genes and chromosomes. [2 marks]

Genes are sections of DNA that control a characteristic by making a protein. [1]

Chromosomes are longer sections of DNA made from many genes. [1]

Sample question 6 - Higher


Explain how inheritance of biological sex occurs in humans. [4 marks]

  • all ova are X [1]
  • half of sperm are X and half are Y [1]
  • a baby with genotype XX is female [1]
  • a baby with genotype XY is male [1]