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

Describe what happens to wasted energy. [2 marks]

It is transferred [1] to the thermal energy store of the surroundings [1].

Sample question 2 - Foundation and Higher

Question

The figure shows a solar-powered charger for a mobile phone:

This graphic shows the function of a solar cell. There is the screen of the solar cell, a rechargeable battery and a lead to a phone.

The screen of the solar cell takes in energy from the Sun.

State how energy is stored in a charger. [1 mark]

As a chemical energy store in the battery [1].