One and two mark questions

One and two 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 The mass of the plant tissue decreased by 2 g owing to water loss.

These questions have been written by Bitesize consultants as suggestions to the types of questions that may appear in an exam paper.

Sample question 1 - Foundation


Use one description from the box to complete the sentence. [1 mark]

In levels of organisation in an organism, a number of cells are grouped into _____________.

[1 mark]

A body systemAn organAn organelleA tissue

A tissue

Sample question 2 - Foundation


Name the parts of the digestive system labelled A and B. [2 marks]

Diagram of the human body and the digestive organs

A is the duodenum. Note that the duodenum is part of the small intestine. You may be given credit for answering intestine in the exam, but the label is pointing specifically to the duodenum.

B is the stomach.

Sample question 3 - Higher


State the functions of the organ labelled C in the diagram. [2 marks]

Unlabelled diagram of the major organs in the human body

The organ is the pancreas, but you will not get marks for saying this, unless you are asked, specifically, to name it.

Its functions are to release enzymes, contained in pancreatic juice, and to produce insulin.

Note that insulin is in the Homeostasis section of the course - you will often be asked to draw on your knowledge from other areas of Biology to answer questions.

Sample question 4 - Higher


What is a potometer used for? [2 marks]

To measure the rate of water uptake by a plant shoot.

Be careful - water uptake by a plant is often very similar to the rate of transpiration, but not always. Your answer must refer to water uptake.