Structured questions

This is the most common question on exam papers, although the number of marks for each question may vary.

At its simplest, this type of question will ask you to remember a simple fact that you have been taught. This type of question is likely to be worth one mark, and will often start with 'Give...', 'State...' or 'Name..'. In some cases, a question may ask you to state two things, rather than just one, and will be worth two marks.

Other structured questions may be worth two or more marks. These will often start with a command word such as 'Describe...' or 'Explain...', and will require a more detailed answer:

  • if you are asked to describe something, you need to give an account but no reason
  • if you are asked to explain something, you must give reasons or explanations

More complex structured questions will be worth three or four marks. They include questions with complex descriptions and explanations, questions in which you need to compare and contrast two different things, or calculations with several stages.

The mark schemes given here may show answers as bullet points. This is to show clearly how a mark can be obtained. However, it is important that your answer is written in a logical, linked way. Examiners will not credit a key word if it is used out of context, or if your answer contradicts itself.

Questions courtesy of Eduqas.

Sample question 1 - Foundation


A student pours water into four polystyrene cups, and measures the temperature of the water.

She adds a different substance to each cup.

She stirs and measures the temperatures again.

Her results are in Table 1.

Table 1

Substance Temperature of water at start (°C)Temperature of solution when reaction finishes (°C)Temperature change (°C)
copper sulfate2026+6
ammonium chloride2015-5
potassium nitrate2011
calcium oxide2031

a) Complete the table by writing in the missing values. [2 marks]

b) Write down the names of the two substances that dissolve in water exothermically. [1 mark]


Substance Temperature of water at start (°C)Temperature of solution when reaction finishes (°C)Temperature change (°C)
copper sulfate2026+6
ammonium chloride2015-5
potassium nitrate2011-9 [1]
calcium oxide2031+11 [1]

b) Copper sulfate and calcium dioxide. [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


Draw a reaction profile for an exothermic reaction using the axes provided below.

Show the:

  • relative energies of the reactants and products
  • activation energy and overall energy change

[2 marks]

Diagram should include:

  • the correct relative energies of the reactants, products and the overall energy change labelled [1]
  • the activation energy labelled [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


When chemical reactions take place bonds are broken and new bonds are formed.

Explain, in terms of bond making and breaking, why some reactions are exothermic. [2 marks]

An example answer could be:

Reactions are exothermic if more energy is released in making bonds than is absorbed in breaking bonds. [2]

Sample question 4 - Higher


'Hot cans' are designed to heat the food inside them before it is eaten. The 'hot can' has an outer case containing calcium oxide. The heat is generated by mixing calcium oxide with water.

During a trial reaction, the temperature inside the can reached 50°C but a temperature of 70°C is required to properly heat the food.

Suggest a change that could have been made and explain how this would lead to the can reaching the higher temperature. [2 marks]

The following are valid points that could be included in your answer:

  • use more calcium oxide [1] so that more heat would be released on reaction [1]


  • use smaller pieces of calcium oxide [1] so that reaction occurs more quickly [1]