Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ANATOMY OF AN EXAM QUESTION - WORKED EXAMPLES

Question 1:

‘This coastline often experiences strong destructive waves. Explain why this is so, using evidence from Fig. 1.’ [4]

1. What is the Command Word in this question?

The Command Word here is “explain”.

2. Are there Conditional Command Words?

There is a phrase which limits the permissible answers to information found only in Fig. 1, “using evidence from Fig. 1”. This is the Conditional Command Word for this question.

3. What must the candidate do to get all 4 marks?

4 marks indicates that there must be 4 (or more) possible reasons (as required by the Command Word ‘explain’) that contribute to the coastline experiencing destructive waves. 4 of them must be given.



Question 2:

‘Assuming that the metal is in Group I of the Periodic Table, write an equation for this reaction. State symbols are not required.’ [1]

1. What is the Command Word in this question?

The Command Word here is “write”. Some may mistake the word “state” to be another Command Word. But taken in context, the term actually reads “state symbols” which is not a Command Word as it does not give instruction to perform a task.

2. Are there Conditional Command Words?

In this case there are 2 phrases, “assuming that the metal is in Group I of the Periodic Table” and “state symbols are not required”. Both these phrases influence the answer. The former limits the group of elements discussed, and the latter prevents the candidate from being penalized for not giving state symbols.

3. What must the candidate do to get the mark?

Because there is only 1 mark allocated for this question, not only must the equation be given, it must be expressed flawlessly.

If the question had more than 1 mark, that may suggest that the mark scheme delineates the method from the final answer and so under those circumstances, errors in the expression of the final answer will not prevent the student from getting marks awarded.


Question 3:

‘Given that the increase in the cost of a ticket during the peak season is $2.00, form an equation in x and show that it reduces to 2x-143=0.’ [2]

1. What is the Command Word in this question?

There are 2 here; “form” and “show”.

2. Are there Conditional Command Words?

In this question, this is rather straightforward, “given that the increase in the cost of a ticket during the peak season is $2.00”. However, this not so much sets limits to the answer as it gives more information to shed light on the scenario. This extra information should help with solving the problem.

3. What must the candidate do to get all 2 marks?

2 Command Words and 2 marks suggest that 1 mark is allocated for each of the Command Words. This also indicates that deriving the answer is the only thing that will be awarded with a mark; marks are not awarded for using the correct method.
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