Structured questions

Simple recall questions are usually worth one mark. They often have command words like 'give', 'state', 'name' or 'identify'. Some questions may ask you to state two things, rather than just one, and will be worth two marks.

Structured questions, with command words such as 'describe' or 'explain', will be worth two or more marks:

  • 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 to five 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.

Questions courtesy of Eduqas.

Sample question 1 - Foundation


In an answer to an examination question, one candidate wrote the following description of the National Grid. It earned no marks.

"The National Grid is a system of pylons that sends electricity from transformers to factories."

a) State how this answer can be improved by changing the words in italics. [3 marks]

i)system of pylons


iii)to factories

b) Transformers are used in the National Grid. Step-up transformers reduce the current.

i) Give a reason why they are called step-up transformers. [1 mark]

ii) State the reason for reducing the current. [1 mark]


i) A system of cables/wires/power lines [1]

ii) from power stations [1]

iii) to consumers/users (or two named consumers, eg schools, hospitals, factories, houses) [1]


i) They step up (increase) the voltage. [1]

ii) To reduce energy losses/heat losses/to improve efficiency/prevent overheating. [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


This table gives some information about three electrical appliances:

AppliancePower input (W)Power wasted (W)Useful power output (W)Efficiency (%)
Security light1,00030030
Microwave oven35035050

a) Complete the table for the security light and microwave oven. [2 marks]

b)i) Write the name of the unit shown by the letter W in the table. [1 mark]

ii) Recall the equation to calculate the efficiency of the television. [2 marks]


AppliancePower input (W)Power wasted (W)Useful power output (W)Efficiency (%)
Security light1,00070030030
Microwave oven70035035050


b)i) Watt [1]

ii) Efficiency = useful output energy ÷ input energy [1]

= 80 ÷ 200

= 0.4

As a percentage multiply by 100 so 40% [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


There is an increasing demand for electricity but the reserves of fossil fuels are decreasing.

a) A way to meet increasing demand for electricity is to build nuclear power stations.

i) Give two reasons to support building more nuclear power stations than other types in the future. [2 marks]

ii) Nuclear waste is a problem that must be dealt with. One possible solution would be to bury the waste deep underground. State one disadvantage of burying nuclear waste. [1 mark]

b) Electricity can also be generated using bio-fuels such as woodchip and straw. Plants for bio-fuels use carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. Explain why burning bio-fuels is more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels. [2 marks]

a) i) Any two from:

  • produces a lot of energy for a small mass of fuel or is a concentrated energy source
  • it is reliable or it can generate all of the time
  • produces no pollutant gases (carbon dioxide)/doesn't contribute to global warming
  • produces only a small volume of waste
  • less dependence on fossil fuels/conserves fossil fuels
  • provides energy security


ii) Any one from:

  • radioactive waste may leak into the ground
  • geological changes/earthquakes
  • radioactive material may get into the food chain
  • over time if location not correctly recorded it may be excavated


Do not give answers in terms of property prices or damages the environment or cost or terrorism.

b) Does not add to/cause global warming or greenhouse effect [1] because carbon dioxide released during burning = carbon dioxide used during growing/overall add no carbon dioxide to the environment (or they are carbon neutral or they just release CO2 back into the air) [1].

Sample question 4 - Higher


a) A classroom has a volume of 80 m3 and contains 104 kg of air. Use the density equation to calculate the density of the air in the room and state the unit. [3 marks]

b) The classroom is heated by single radiator on a wall. Explain how the whole room is heated by the radiator. [2 marks]

a) Density = mass ÷ volume [1]

= 104 ÷ 80 [1]

Density = 1.3 kg/m3 [1]

b) The air above the radiator is heated and becomes less dense and rises [1]. As the air circulates, it releases the heat, cools, becomes denser and falls [1].