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
  • 'compare' where you describe the similarities and/or differences between things

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). For example '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 decreased 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 carbon cycle or the method you would use in an experiment.

Sample question 1 - Foundation

Question

Compare the width of the walls of the vessel and the lumen in arteries and veins. [2 marks]

This question has been written by a Bitesize consultant as a suggestion to the type of question that may appear in an exam paper.

Your answer should consist of the following points when comparing:

  • arteries have thicker muscular walls than veins [1]
  • arteries have narrower lumens than veins [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Question

Complete the sentences about transport mechanisms in plants using the words from the grid below. [2 marks]

The ______ vessels carry water and minerals from the roots to the leaves.

The ______ carries sucrose from the leaves to roots and shoots.

xylemstomataphloempalisade

This question has been written by a Bitesize consultant as a suggestion to the type of question that may appear in an exam paper.

The xylem [1] vessels carry water and minerals from the roots to the leaves.

The phloem [1] carries sucrose from the leaves to roots and shoots.

Sample question 3 - Higher

Question

In an osmosis experiment, after 45 minutes, a potato cylinder had lost 2.4 g in mass.

Calculate the rate of water loss from the potato cylinder in grams per hour. [2 marks]

This question has been written by a Bitesize consultant as a suggestion to the type of question that may appear in an exam paper.

3.2 g h-1 [1]

45 minutes = 0.75 h

The water lost in 0.75 h is 2.4 g

Therefore, \frac{\text{2.4}}{\text{0.75}} grams of water would be lost in 1 hour [1]

The rate of water loss is 3.2 g per hour, or written more scientifically, 3.2 g h-1

Sample question 4 - Higher

Question

Explain how oxygen passes from the alveolus into the blood capillary. [2 marks]

Question courtesy of Eduqas.

Your answer should include the following points to receive full marks:

  • dissolves in the moist/water lining of the alveolus [1]
  • it diffuses [1]

You could get full marks just by saying that oxygen diffuses in solution as this expresses that the gas has dissolved before diffusing which covers both marking points.

You do not need to refer to the diffusion gradient in this question to get the mark.