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 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 manner, the points are linked to each other, and are relevant to the question.

Sample question 1 - Foundation

Question

When iron oxide is heated with carbon, iron is produced.

Complete the word equation for the reaction.

Iron oxide + carbon → ______ + ______. [3 marks]

Edexcel question courtesy of Pearson Education Ltd.

  • Iron oxide + carbon → iron [1] + carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide [1]
  • You can write these answers in either order.

Sample question 2 - Foundation

Question

Lithium fluoride, LiF, is an ionic compound. It contains lithium cations and fluoride anions.

The electronic configuration of a lithium atom is 2.1 and that of a fluorine atom is 2.7.

Give the electronic configurations and charges of the ions in lithium fluoride. [4 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.

  • Electronic configuration of Li ion: 2 [1]; charge is 1+ [1]
  • Electronic configuration of fluoride ion: 2.8 [1]; charge is 1- [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher

Question

Hot iron oxide, Fe2O3, reacts with carbon monoxide, CO. In the reaction, iron and carbon dioxide are produced.

Write the balanced equation for the reaction. [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.

  • Fe2O3 + 3CO → 2Fe + 3CO2
  • Correct formulae [1]; balancing of correct formulae [1]
  • You must get the formulae right first to gain the second mark.

Sample question 4 - Higher

Question

Explain, in terms of its structure, why graphite is able to be used as a lubricant. [3 marks]

Edexcel question courtesy of Pearson Education Ltd.

  • The carbon atoms in graphite are in formed into layers. [1]
  • There are only weak intermolecular forces between the layers. [1]
  • The layers can slide over each other. [1]