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.
An unfounded report stating that the MMR vaccine was a danger to health was published in 2004. After the report was published many parents decided not to have their children vaccinated against MMR. This resulted in an increase in the number of cases of mumps, measles and rubella, as follows:
|Date||Number of cases|
|Jan 2007 - Jan 2008||990|
|Jan 2008 - Nov 2008||1217|
In some countries, vaccination of school children is compulsory.
Suggest reasons for and against compulsory vaccination. [6 marks]
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the following treatments for cardiovascular disease:
Remember to include an evaluation of all three points in your answer.
Award one mark for a correct evaluation of each of the three points in the question.
Describe different ways plant diseases can be detected and identified, in the lab and in the field.