Six mark questions are often the questions that people find the most difficult. In all longer answer questions, but especially the six mark ones, it is important that you plan your answer and not just rush into it. After all, you would plan an essay or short story before starting. Without a plan it is easy to stray away from the key point and loose marks, get steps in a process in the wrong order or forget key bits of information. Remember to write your answer in full sentences, not bullet points.
Six mark questions will start with command words such as 'describe', 'evaluate' or 'explain'.
Some command words are easy to understand such as:
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 the pH of milk decreases. It does this 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 '[6 marks]'. It is essential that you give as many different points in your answer as possible (ideally six).
The examiner looks for a 'level of response' in six mark questions. If you list some simple statements without a logical structure you will be limited to a maximum of two marks. A better answer for four marks would demonstrate your understanding, but may miss some details. Only answers that have a logical sequence with relevant detail would achieve six marks.
Edexcel questions courtesy of Pearson Education Ltd.
Describe how sampling techniques can be used to investigate the distribution of plants and insects in a field. [6 marks]
A description to include some of the following points.
Description of method