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Describe is a common exam question. The examiner is testing your knowledge and wants you to apply it to different concepts. 



How to answer:


Give details about the following where appropriate;

What happens?  What do you see?  How does it happen? When does it happen? 




















Subject-specific examples


Edexcel GCSE Physics - Specimen paper 1 (First exams 2018)


Question: Describe how the energy released in the chain reaction in a nuclear reactor is used to drive a turbine in a nuclear power station (3m)


The main nuclear fuels are uranium and plutonium. In a nuclear power station, nuclear fuel undergoes a controlled chain reaction in the reactor to produce heat - nuclear to heat energy. Heat is used to change water into steam in the boiler. The steam drives the turbine (heat to kinetic energy). This then drives the generator to produce electricity - kinetic to electrical energy.






AQA GCSE History  -  Specimen Paper 1 Section A  1B Germany, 1890-1945 (First exams 2018)


Question: Describe two problems faced by Kaiser Wilhelm II’s governments in ruling Germany up to 1914 (4m)


One problem was that ruling Germany was difficult because rapid industrial expansion created social problems in the towns and opposition from the growth of militant Trade Unions and extremist groups. Another problem was that the growing power of the socialists made it difficult to secure a majority for the government in the Reichstag.





AQA GCSE Biology - Specimen Paper 2 (First exams 2018)


A student made the following hypothesis about the growth of mould: ‘The higher the temperature, the faster the growth of mould’. The student planned to measure the amount of mould growing on bread. The student used the following materials and equipment: • slices of bread • sealable plastic bags • a knife • a chopping board • mould spores. 

Question: Describe how the materials and equipment could be used to test the hypothesis (4m)


Using a bread loaf, cut 4 equal sized pieces of bread. The size should be measured using a ruler 5cm by 5cm. Count out 5 mould spores and carefully placed them onto one piece of bread. Repeat this for the other 4 pieces.   Place each bread into a sealable plastic bag and put these bags into different incubator temperatures of -4, 20, 40, 60, 80 degrees Celsius. Leave the bags for a total of 4 days. Remove the bags on the fourth day and measure the percentage cover of mould. Record your results and repeat this investigation two more times to calculate an average for each temperature.






AQA GCSE Geography -  Paper 3 Geographical applications Specimen paper (First exams 2018)


Question: Describe the pattern of the pedestrian flow shown on the completed map


Looking at the map, you can see that the greatest concentration of pedestrians is at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street. Traffic flows along these roads away from the junction. You can see that the main flows are east-west along Oxford Street.  It is also evident that uniform reduction in pedestrian flows from 400–200 stretching from junction north-south and east-west.







Edexcel GCSE Biology - SAM Paper 1 Higher (First exams 2018)


The population of humans on Earth has increased significantly leading to food shortages. The growth of drought-resistant crop plants could lead to an increase in food supply.

Question: Describe how drought-resistant crop plants can be produced (3m)


Genetic variation means that some plants will be tolerant of drought conditions and these can be selected. You can cross-pollinate these plants which will allow you to grow the seeds under drought conditions. Select offspring and repeat this process over several generations.







AQA GCSE PE - Specimen Paper 2 (First exams 2018)


Question: Describe how direct aggression may be used to improve performance (2m) 


One way it would be used is when you tackle in rugby. You do it to stop the player running with the ball.







AQA GCSE DT - Specimen Paper 1 (First exams 2019)


Question: Describe two ways that materials and/or products are strengthened or reinforced (4m)


Plywood is created in layers to strengthen the material as the layers are laid with the grain in different directions. This ensures the weak lines of the grain are strengthened. 


Many buildings use reinforced concrete to improve the tensile strength of the material. The concrete uses the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel combined to make a more suitable building material.







AQA GCSE Chemistry - Specimen paper Paper 2 (First exams 2018)


Question: Describe how carbon dioxide helps to maintain temperatures on Earth (3m)


Carbon dioxide allows short wavelength radiation from the sun to pass through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface. At the same time, carbon dioxide is able to absorb the outgoing of long wavelength radiation, helping to maintain the temperature of the Earth. 











                  How to describe

    (new spec 2018 examples included)

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