Structured questions

Simple recall questions are usually worth 1 mark. They are often have command words like 'give', 'state', 'name' or 'identify'. Some questions may ask you to state two things, rather than just one, and will be worth 2 marks.

Structured questions, with command words such as 'describe' or 'explain', will be worth 2 or more marks:

  • 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 3 to 5 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.

Questions courtesy of Eduqas.

Sample question 1 - Foundation and Higher


Radio waves, microwaves, infra-red and visible light are all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are used for communication.

a) State one property that they all have in common. [1 mark]

b) State one way in which they are different from one another. [1 mark]

c)Use the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum named above to complete the following sentences. [3 marks]

Information is sent along optical fibres using ______ Satellite dishes on Earth use ______ to communicate with orbiting satellites. Mobile phones receive ______ signals.

a) Travel at the same speed [in a vacuum] / transverse waves / transfer energy / can be reflected / refracted / are not ionising [1]

b) Different wavelength / frequency / energy [1]

c) Infra red/visible [1], microwaves [1], microwaves/infra red [1]

Sample question 2 - Higher


Microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation. They are reflected from metals but can pass through glass, pottery and some plastics.

Most food cooked in a microwave oven has a high water content, which readily absorbs the microwave energy producing a rapid rise in temperature. This results in the food being cooked quickly.

a) i) Explain why the choice of container for the food is important in microwave cookery. [2 marks]

ii) Give a reason why microwave ovens cook food quicker than a conventional oven. [1 mark]

b) X-rays and gamma rays are other types of electromagnetic radiation. State two ways in which they differ from microwave radiation. [2 marks]

a) i) Plastic / glass containers allow microwaves to pass through them [2]


Metal containers reflect microwaves / produce sparks / don’t allow microwaves to pass through them [2]

ii) Microwave energy causes the water to be heated rapidly. [1]

b) Any two from:

  • different wavelength / frequency
  • greater penetration
  • ionises / damages cells of the body
  • transfer more energy