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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
GCSE Science Examination Command Words and Examples to Illustrate
Below each explanation are examples, with answers in blue, which would gain full marks.
Calculate
Candidates should use numbers given in the question to work out the answer. They should always
show their working, as it may be possible for the examiner to award some marks for the method even
if the final answer is wrong.
Candidates should always give the units ­ sometimes a mark may be awarded for the correct units,
even if the calculation is wrong.
Example: Biology
1 Each student collected data by using 10 quadrats.
These are the results for one student.
Quadrat number Number of dandelions
1 3
2 3
3 6
4 2
5 1
6 2
7 0
8 3
9 2
10 0
Calculate the mean number of dandelions per quadrat counted by the student.
You should show clearly how you work out your answer.
3+3+6+2+1+2+0+3+2+0 = 22 ...................................................................................................
22/10 = 2.2 ................................................................................................................................
2.2
Mean number of dandelions ...................................
(2 marks)
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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Example: Chemistry
2 A drug amphetamine has the formula C9H13N
The relative molecular mass (Mr) of amphetamine is 135.
Calculate the percentage by mass of nitrogen in amphetamine.
Relative atomic mass: N = 14 C=12 H=1
Mass of N 1 x 14 = 14 .............................................................................................................
(14/135) x 100 = 10.37 .............................................................................................................
Percentage of nitrogen = 10.4 %
(2 marks)
Compare
This requires the candidate to describe the similarities and/or differences between things, not just
write about one.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Compare the advantages of phytomining with the traditional method. Use the information given in the
passage and the diagram.
The advantages of phytomining are that it would take less energy than the traditional method and it
will be carbon neutral because the plants will take the same amount of carbon dioxide out of the
atmosphere as they grow as they release when they are burnt.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Example: Physics
6 Marbles inside a box can be used as a model for the particles in a solid, a liquid or a gas.
Complete the following sentences using words from the box. Each word can be used once, more
than once or not at all.
gas liquid solid
(a) The particles in a solid vibrate about fixed positions.
(1 mark)
(b) The particles in a gas move at high speed in any direction.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Describe
Candidates should recall some facts, events or process in an accurate way - for example an
experiment they have done. They may need to give an account of what something looked like, or
what happened, eg a trend in some data.
Example: Biology
7 A person accidentally touches a hot pan.
Her hand automatically moves away from the pan.
The diagram shows the structures involved in this action.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Example: Physics
8 A star goes through a life cycle.
Describe the life cycle of a star like the Sun.
In the beginning dust particles and gases are pulled together by the force of gravity. As the atoms of
hydrogen gas are forced together the nuclei collide and nuclear fusion begins. The star becomes
stable as the forces acting inwards and the forces acting outwards are balanced.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Evaluate
Candidates should use information supplied or their own knowledge and understanding to consider
the evidence for and against and draw conclusions.
This goes further than "compare". For example, they may be given a passage to read and told to
"Evaluate the benefits of using system x and system y".
This means they will need to write down some of the pros and cons for both systems, AND then state
which one is better and why.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Example: Chemistry
10 This information about biodiesel was printed in a magazine.
Almost all of the crops we eat can be converted into fuel for cars.
Vegetable oils can be used as biodiesel. Diesel from crude oil is called fossil diesel.
When either biodiesel or fossil diesel burn they both produce similar amounts of carbon dioxide. Both
types of diesel produce carbon monoxide. However, biodiesel produces fewer carbon particles and
less sulphur dioxide.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Explain
Candidates should make something clear, or state the reasons for something happening.
The points in the answer must be linked coherently and logically.
The answer should not be a simple list of reasons.
Example: Biology
11 Some students investigated the effect of temperature on the rate of photosynthesis in pond weed.
They set up the apparatus and altered the temperature using ice and hot water. They counted the
number of bubbles given off in a minute at different temperatures.…read more

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Command Words for GCSE Sciences
Example: Chemistry
12 A mixture of the olive oil, water and egg yolk was shaken and left to stand. The olive oil and water do
not separate.
The diagram shows a simple model of how a stable mixture of olive oil and water is produced by the
addition of egg yolk.
Use this simple model to explain how the molecules in the egg yolk are able to produce a stable
mixture of olive oil and water.…read more

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