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 diagram shows the electronic structure of an element in the periodic table.

Structure of a sodium atom

Using dots to represent an electron, draw a similar diagram to show the electronic structure of the element which:

a) lies directly below this element in the periodic table.

b) lies directly to the right of this element in the periodic table.

[2 marks]


The structure of potassium.



Structure of a mystery element


Sample question 2 - Foundation


Potassium reacts vigorously with water forming potassium hydroxide and hydrogen gas, H2.

Give two observations made when potassium reacts with water in a large trough.

[2 marks]

Your answer can include any two of the following:

  • floats
  • moves around on surface
  • melts into ball
  • ignites and burns with lilac flame
  • fizzing/hissing noise


Sample question 3 - Higher


The reactivity of group 7 elements was investigated by reacting each halogen with solutions of each halide.

Explain the trend in reactivity in group 7 in terms of electronic structure.

[3 marks]

  • reactivity decreases down the group [1]
  • going down the group the size of the atom increases/distance between (positive) nucleus and (negative) electrons increases [1]
  • therefore more difficult to attract an electron into outer shell [1]

Sample question 4 - Higher


Some reactions of chlorine are listed below.

chlorine + iron → solid X

solid Y + chlorine → sodium chloride

chlorine solution + solution Z → potassium chloride solution + bromine solution

a) Name the following substances:

  • Solid X
  • Solid Y
  • Solid Z

[3 marks]

b) Name the type of reaction that occurs when chlorine solution reacts with solution Z.

[1 mark]

c) Write a balanced symbol equation for the reaction of chlorine solution reacts with sodium iodide solution.

[3 marks]


  • Solid X - iron chloride [1]
  • Solid Y - sodium chloride [1]
  • Solid Z - sodium bromide [1]

b) Displacement [1]


  • Cl2(g) + 2KI(aq) → 2KCl(aq) + I2(aq)
  • Correct formulae [1]
  • Correct balancing [1]
  • Correct state symbols [1]