AS/A2 Biology Exam Question Instructions - guidance glossary

The AQA site has provided a number of documents to provide students with exam skill support. One such document is the instructions glossary which provides a basic level of support to ensure students fully understand the style of questions and what is expected from them in terms of their answers.

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AQA GCE Biology
Instructions to candidates in question papers
Sometimes candidates fail to do themselves justice because they do not follow the
specific requirements of individual questions. This list defines the meanings of the
instructions that are used in question papers. In reading it, the following points must
be borne in mind.
Many questions are best asked as direct questions prefaced by the words "What?",
"Why?" or "Where?"
These words are commonplace and no attempt has been made to define them.
AQA's guiding principle is to set questions that are clear and unambiguous. While
instructions will normally be taken from the list that follows, AQA may use alternative
expressions if they make the meaning of the question clearer.
Calculate This term is used where the only requirement is a numerical answer,
expressed in appropriate units. The additional instruction, "Show your working", will be
used if details or methods are required. The working can be used to allow credit
where a candidate has made an arithmetical error but has used a correct method for
deriving the answer.
Define/ What is meant by...? This requires a statement giving the meaning of a
particular term or of a word used in a comprehension passage. A definition requires
the use of appropriate scientific terminology. "What is meant by...?" is used more
frequently as it emphasises that a formal definition, as such, is not required.
Describe Means no more than it says: "give a description of ..." This can be used in
one of two ways. The first involves the translation of information from one form to
another, For example, "Describe the shape of the curve" requires a translation of
information from one form to another. This involves a description of the shape of the
curve, relating the trends or patterns to key points or values.
The second involves giving an account of a process. For example, "Describe an
experiment" means give an account of how such an experiment should be carried
Describe how you should .... The expression is often used when asking questions
about experimental design. What is required is an account of how something should
be done by you as a student working in the context of an A level specification in an
ordinary school or college laboratory. Candidates who write that they would do
something inappropriate or unsafe would not be given credit.
Evaluate Evaluating is more than just listing advantages and disadvantages. It
means judging the worth of something.
Explain A reason or interpretation must be given, not a description. The term
"Describe" answers the question "What?" the term "Explain" answers the question
"Why?". Thus, "Explain the curve on a graph" requires biological reasons for any
change of direction or pattern which is evident. It is a good idea to start answers that
require an explanation with the word "Because ..."

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Give Used when a statement or an account of the similarities/ differences between
two or more items is required e.g `Give two differences between X and Y'.
Give the evidence from.../ Using examples from... Answers to questions
involving these phrases must follow the instructions in the questions. Marks are
always awarded for appropriate references to the information provided. Answers that
do not, will not gain maximum credit.…read more


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