One to four mark questions

One to four 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
  • 'define' to give the meaning of an important word
  • 'suggest' 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 this 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 during the first two years the number of lions deceased by seven.

You will be expected to write in more depth for three and four mark questions. They might ask you about a process such as the reflex arc or the method you would use in an experiment.

This page contains AQA material which is reproduced by permission of AQA.

Sample question 1 – Foundation

Question

Receptors in a boy's body detects changes in the environment. Complete the table to show which organ of the body contains the receptors for each change in the environment. [3 marks]

Tip – Add three answers into the gaps in the table. If you are unsure, make an educated guess, but don't leave any blanks.
Change in the environmentOrgan that contains the receptors
Sound of traffic from behind him
Flashing blue lights of a police car
Cooler air temperature in the shadows
Tip – Add three answers into the gaps in the table. If you are unsure, make an educated guess, but don't leave any blanks.
Change in the environmentOrgan that contains the receptors
Sound of traffic from behind himEar(s)
Flashing blue lights of a police carEye(s) accept retina
Cooler air temperature in the shadowsSkin

Sample question 2 – Foundation

The photograph shows a baby.

A diagram showing you the different senses.Labels A, B, C, D and E show some of the baby's sense organs.

Answer each question by selecting one letter, A, B, C, D or E, for each response.

Question

Which sense organ has receptors sensitive to light? [1 mark]

Choice
A
B
C
D
E

Choice
A
B
C
D
E
Question

Which two sense organs have receptors sensitive to chemicals? [2 marks]

Choice
A
B
C
D
E
Choice
A
B
C
D
E
Question

Which sense organ has receptors sensitive to changes in the baby's position? [1 mark]

Choice
A
B
C
D
E

Choice
A
B
C
D
E

Sample question 3 – Higher

Question

Explain the difference between sensory, relay and motor neurones in terms of the direction that their electrical signals travel. [3 marks]

  • Sensory neurones carry electrical signals from receptors to the central nervous system.
  • Relay neurones carry electrical signals within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
  • Motor neurones carry electrical signals away from the central nervous system to effectors (muscles and glands).

Sample question 4 – Higher

Question

Explain why reflex arc signals do not immediately go to the brain. [2 marks]

Because it would take longer to react if they did.