GCSE Science – How to write good answers to 6 mark questions!


May 29, 2012 by Doug Napolitano-Cremin

The recent changes to specifications have meant that many pupils studying GCSE Science have had to come to a shocking realisation. To achieve good marks they will have to write more than a sentence for many of the questions and bullet points will be a big no-no!

Panic swept across Science departments across the country. How do we teach our pupils to write? All of a sudden Science teachers were leaving their prep rooms during break and searching out the habitat of the English teachers. English teachers were fast becoming our new best friends – or so we hoped!

Personally, I have found it a struggle to help my GCSE pupils use the skills they have developed in their English lessons, in their Science lessons. This struggle prompted me to attend a ‘Literacy in Science’ session at the recent ASE London Conference. The session was led by Julia Leewood, Assessment/Science consultant in Camden, and Alison Pyle, Camden’s Literacy Consultant. The session discussed much more than just how to do well in extended writing questions in Science, but that is the part of the session I will focus on here.

Julia and Alison provided us with detailed notes and explanations of how the skills needed to answer the new six mark questions could be introduced to pupils. A lesson plan was provided and example questions and model answers were discussed. The session was delivered in the same format that the lesson should be delivered to a KS4 class, and this really helped to consolidate the ideas and the structure that were being presented. Although there wasn’t much time to go through everything, by the end of the session you were left with such a clear picture that you wondered why you haven’t been doing it that way from day one!

After the session I adapted what I had learnt from Julia and Alison and delivered the lesson to my Year 10 triple-scientists. I haven’t yet been able to see what effect the lesson has had on their ability to answer 6 mark questions, however many pupils did remark after the lesson that the structures discussed did seem very straightforward. They commented that their thoughts would be a lot more organised when they have to answer 6 mark questions in the future.

Below is the PowerPoint used with my Year 10s.

GCSE Science – How to write good answers to 6 mark questions

View more PowerPoint from sciteachcremin

There are also links here to…

The Lesson Plan

The Model Answer

Peer Assessment Guidance Sheet (Success Criteria)

All of the above work has been adapted from the fantastic resources provided by Julia and Alison so many thanks for their excellent training.

To contact Julia or Alison use the information below:

Julia Leewood – Science & Assessment

Alison Pyle – Secondary Literacy

School Improvement Service

020 7974 1623




9 thoughts on “GCSE Science – How to write good answers to 6 mark questions!

  1. Thanks for the tips. The peer assessment guidance sheet is another copy of the model answer.. I think.


  2. lordyosch says:

    Thanks for this. Its something we’ve been working on at my place


  3. Sam says:

    Brilliant start for me with regards to getting over 200 pupils prepared for this, thanks. Total shame that I was unable to get any of the associated resources as the dropbox for each one was empty, would have been great to see them. Any chance I might be able to get them?? Thanks..


  4. Sam says:


    Thank you so much. This is an amazing start for what I need to do do and makes me feel so much more prepared for what I need to produce.



  5. SEW says:

    Hi, This looks amazing. Would you mind if I adapted some of these resources to show to some teachers in my area?


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