Read the question carefully, following each word with your pen. Identify the keywords in the question.

eg Name an element that burns to form carbon dioxide gas

Work out what you are actually meant to be writing down.

In this case your answer has to be

  • …… the name of a chemical
  • ……….and it has to be an element
  • …………..and it has to be able to burn.


2. Look for the key word that is asking you what to do

  • Does the question ask you to EXPLAIN what happens?
  •        or does it ask you to say WHY something happens?
  •               or does it ask you to DESCRIBE what happens?

Do NOT leave out answers. If you don’t know a correct answer then GUESS

If it asks for an element and you don’t know which … then write down the name of any element you can think of that may be the correct answer.

If you can’t remember what an element is then write down the name of any chemical .

In all questions that involve a calculation remember to show all the working and to give the unit.

eg a box measures 3cm cm 4cm by 10 cm
What is the volume of the box

Volume  =  L x W x H      =  3 x 4 x 10     = 120 cm3

If the question gives you a choice of answers:
i.     work out answers that cannot be correct
ii.    pick one of the remaining answers to write down.

always write down something. Do NOT leave out a multiple choice answer

Pay attention to the number of marks .. If it is worth several marks you need to answer in more detail

If a question says “……. you may draw a diagram to help your answer..”
…….then draw a diagram … you are more likely to get full marks (remember to use a pencil and ruler)

If the question asks you to name something try to write down something

eg Give the unit for…….. Has to be a unit of measurement eg grams, cubic centimetre

eg Name the part of a flower which….. has to be some part of a flower

eg Name the process which …. has to be the name of something that you can do or that happens and will usually end in ..tion eg distillation, respiration, evporation

eg Name an instrument which… has to be the name of a piece of apparatus

eg Name a substance which …. has to be the name of a chemical

eg Give the number of … has to be a number of some kind

If you are asked for any kind of measurement eg give the temperature of ….. then always write down the UNIT ie 100 ºC

If you have to do a calculation then always clearly show your working

Remember … quite often all you need to do is to apply common sense .. if the answer might work then put it down .. don’t worry about getting it wrong.

Example  questions:

Describe what happens if some iron nails are dropped into some copper sulphate solution:

Explain what happens when iron nails are placed in copper sulphate solution.

Name an element that reacts with water

What is the unit for pressure

Name the part of a flower where pollination takes place:

Name the process you would use to obtain some salt from salty water

Describe how you would get some salt from salty water . You may use a diagram if you think it will help your answer.