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 diagrams below show the electronic structures of a magnesium atom and an oxygen atom.

Structure of magnesium and oxygen

Magnesium reacts with oxygen to form magnesium oxide.

State, in terms of electrons, what happens to magnesium and oxygen atoms during this reaction. [2 marks]

  • magnesium atom loses two electrons [1]
  • oxygen atom gains two electrons [1]

Sample question 2 - Foundation


The key below represents atoms of some elements.

Nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen coloured green, white and red

Use the key to draw a diagram representing a molecule of ammonia, NH3. [1 mark]

Atoms and molecules

N atom at centre with three H atoms independently attached. [1]

Sample question 3 - Higher


Explain, in terms of the metallic bonding model, why aluminium:

a) conducts electricity [1 mark]

b) is malleable and ductile. [1 mark]

a) mobile sea of electrons [1]

b) layers of atoms/ions slide over one another [1]

Sample question 4 - Higher


Ammonia is an important compound used by industry and agriculture.

a) Describe, in terms of outer shell electrons, the bonding in a molecule of ammonia.

You should include a suitable diagram showing outer shell electrons in your answer. [2 marks]

b) Explain why ammonia is a gas at room temperature. [2 marks]

a) Three single bonds from nitrogen to hydrogen atoms [1]

Non-bonded pair of electrons left on nitrogen [1]

Example of a complete dot and cross diagram

b) Weak forces between ammonia molecules [1]

Molecules have sufficient energy at room temperature to overcome these forces [1]