One and two mark questions

One to two 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
  • 'state what is meant by' to give the meaning of an important term
  • 'comment on' where you use your knowledge in an unfamiliar situation

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 the 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 'the speed of the object decreased by 8 m/s'.

Edexcel questions courtesy of Pearson Education Ltd.

Sample question 1 - Foundation and Higher

Question

Transformers are designed to use alternating current. Describe what change happens when a step-up transformer is used. [2 marks]

The voltage [1] increases [1].

Sample question 2 - Higher

Question

The figures below show different voltages that can be applied across a wire.

Two diagrams showing different voltages. One has four large curves, the other has lots of small curves.Figure 1 (left) and Figure 2 (right)

Explain which of the voltages in the figures causes an ac current in the wire. [2 marks]

Alternating current changes direction which means that on the graph it will have a negative voltage followed by a positive voltage or vice versa [1]. Of the two figures, Figure 1 shows negative voltage and positive voltage, so it is the one that causes an ac current in the wire [1].

Sample question 3 - Higher

Question

The table shows some electrical components.

Put ticks in the table next to the two components the generator must contain. [2 marks]

Component
Ammeter
Coil of wire
Battery
Magnet
Voltmeter
Component
Ammeter
Coil of wire
Battery
Magnet
Voltmeter

[2]

Sample question 4 - Higher

Question

An ammeter is connected to a coil of wire with a magnet sitting in the coil.

The magnet is moved out of the coil.

A bar magnet rests outside a coil of wire. The coil is connected to an ammeter, which registers no current.

The ammeter moves one unit to the right.

The magnet is replaced and this time it is pulled out more quickly. Explain what happens to the ammeter this time. [2 marks]

The ammeter will move more units to the right [1] because moving the magnet faster induces more potential difference to drive the current [1].