One and two mark questions

One to 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.

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


What is the difference between HIV and AIDS? [2 marks]

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and initially only causes mild flu-like symptoms [1]. AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome - months or years after infection the virus becomes active and starts to attack the patient’s immune system [1].

Sample question 2


What are the short term symptoms of infection by gonorrhoea? [2 marks]

It causes a burning pain when urinating [1]. It can form a thick yellow or green discharge from an infected person's penis or vagina [1].

Sample question 3


Mosquitos can pass the malarial parasite from one human to another. What name is given to an organism that transmits a disease? [1 mark]


Sample question 4


What are the symptoms of infection by Athlete's Foot? [1 mark]

The skin of the feet becomes itchy, flaky and can start to blister.