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 2 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


The Sun contains mainly the elements hydrogen and helium.

State what you understand by the term 'element'. [2 marks]

  • substance that contains one type of atom [1]
  • cannot be broken down by chemical means/to a simpler substance [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


The formula for calcium chloride is CaCl2.

Give the names of the two elements present in this compound. [1 mark]

Calcium and chlorine [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


The diagram shows the apparatus which can be used to separate a mixture of ethanol and water. Ethanol has a boiling point of 78°C.

The diagram shows the apparatus which can be used to separate a mixture of ethanol and water.

Explain how the mixture is separated. [4 marks]

  • separation occurs because the two liquids have different boiling points [1]
  • ethanol boils at a lower temperature than water [1]
  • at 78 °C ethanol vapour enters the condenser and becomes liquid as it is cooled [1]
  • ethanol is collected in the beaker and water is left in the flask [1]