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Explain is the MOST COMMON type of question because it comes up in EVERY SUBJECT. It is one of the most important skills you need to develop so make sure you spend enough time mastering this technique that is very transferable.


From my experience, there is not much difference between explaining and analysing. The structure would be the same, however, in subjects like Business Studies, analysis requires you to apply your answer in the context of a case study. 


To master this skill you need to talk about cause and effect. You start off by making an argument, then you need to say why (cause) and what the impact is (effect).  Students throw away so many marks in this type of question because they fail to develop their answer in enough depth as they do not focus enough on the impact of their argument.


How to explain effectively













Example:     Explain one benefit of Tokyo hosting the Olympics in 2020


Step 1: One benefit of hosting the Olympics in Tokyo is that it will create jobs.  Step 2: This is because a major sporting event like the Olympics can attract thousands of people for the duration of the games and businesses will need to deal with the increase in demand Step3: As a result these businesses will need to hire employees to cope with the increase in demand. Therefore, this should improve employment rates thus resulting in more taxes being paid to the government


How to explain 

(new spec 2018 examples included)

Step 3 is what makes the difference between a low-quality answer and a high-quality one. Students do not develop their answer in enough detail so that it is `well developed` or `well explained`. If you look at mark schemes, the top end of marks usually asks for this in an answer.


If you are a student; make sure you include at least 2/3 of the step three connectives in your answer. If you can do this properly,



If you are a teacher; you need to train students up to do this. They should be practising this skill on a regular basis.


Top tip: Be careful of using connectives such as `In addition`, `Furthermore` and `Moreover`. Sometimes students will try to use these to develop an argument but more often than not they will end up starting another point which means their analysis from the previous point they were developing will lack enough depth, therefore reducing the quality of their answer.

       Step 1 - Point

  • One benefit

  • One problem

  • One issue

  • One advantage​​​

        Step 2 - Explain


  • This is because 

  • This means that 

       Step 3 - Effect


  • As a result

  • Therefore

  • This could lead to

  • Resulting in

  • Causing

  • Which would

  • Thus

Subject-specific examples 


AQA GCSE History  - Specimen Paper 1 (First exams 2018)


Question: In what ways were the lives of women in Germany affected by Nazi social policies? Explain your answer (8m)


One way women`s lives were affected by the Nazi`s social policies is that they were made to look like a typical `Aryan` woman. This is because their lives were now going to be more controlled as Hitler wanted women to just focus on being good mothers. As a result, women were not expected to wear make-up or trousers and dying their hair was forbidden along with perms. Only flat shoes were expected to be worn and they were discouraged from slimming as it was considered bad for childbirth. Therefore women lost the freedom and right to choose how they wanted to appear in society.


Another way their lives were affected was with the introduction of the Motherhood Cross. This meant that women who had the most children would be rewarded for giving birth to the largest amount of children. Germany was a forward-thinking country and the logic was that as it was growing, it would need mothers and soldiers. As a result of this booming population, young boys could be groomed into being soldiers and young girls could be groomed into being young mothers. Therefore, if `Lebensraum` was to be carried out, Hitler would have the population to fill the spaces gained in Eastern Europe.






AQA GCSE Geography  - Specimen Paper 1 (First exams 2018)


Question: Explain the processes involved in the formation of the landforms shown (6m)


A waterfall is a sudden drop along the river course. You can see one in the photo, alongside a plunge pool and gorge. You can also see the different layers of hard and soft rock which are a leading factor in the creating of waterfalls. This is because horizontal bands of hard and soft rock are crossed by the river as it flows down the long profile. The hard rock is on top – the cap rock.  As a result, this causes differential erosion as the underlying soft rock is eroded faster than the overlying hard rock via abrasion and hydraulic action.  Therefore, with time, the soft rock is gouged out to leave an overhang as the profile is steepened. Unable to support its weight, it will collapse into the plunge pool providing further material for erosion and the deepening of the waterfall. Over many centuries, the waterfall may retreat to form a gorge of recession.






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


Question: Explain how the carbon is recycled into the growth of new leaves (6m)



Leaves take in carbon dioxide. This is because it is needed for photosynthesis.  Glucose and other complex carbon compounds are formed in plants.  Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi decompose these carbon compounds found in the leaves. As a result, they respire causing the released carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is then taken in by plants for photosynthesis which leads to the production of glucose. Plants then use this glucose to causing the production of amino acids, proteins, and cellulose, which is needed for growth of new leaves






AQA GCSE PE  - Specimen Paper 1 (First exams 2018)


Question: Explain how the muscles and bones work together to produce the movement from position A to position B (3m)


In reference to the picture, the bicep muscle starts off as the agonist which then contracts. Antagonist and agonist muscles often occur in pairs, called antagonistic pairs. This is because it prevents damage to the skeletal system. As a result of this, it shortens to cause the movement from A to B. Biceps are attached to bones in the lower arm via tendons which causes the Biceps to contract therefore creating a pull on the radius which leads to flexion at the elbow. Finally, Tricep is the antagonist which relaxes and leads to the contraction of the bicep which allows movement of the dumbells.






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


Question: Explain one benefit to a business of using part-time employees (3m)


One benefit of using part-time staff is that it allows the business to be flexible. This is because there will be times of the year when a business might need extra staff for a short period of time. As a result of having this system, the business can use the part time employees to cover the full time ones when they go on holiday, therefore ensuring that the business operates at normal capacity and has minimal disruption.






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


Question: Analyse one way in which a stakeholder of Krispy Kreme may be affected by the opening of a new store (6m)

(It is very important to understand the only difference between explain/analyse in Business Studies is that is when you are asked to analyse you need to answer in the context of the case study. Explain does not require you to do that)


One stakeholder to be affected by the opening of Krispy Kreme is the government. This is because Krispy Kreme has opened a new store in Glasgow and have a policy in place that works with the local community to tackle long-term unemployment which is an issue in the city. As a result of hiring employees, they will pay taxes to the government, therefore they will be contributing to the tax system instead of taking from it. This could lead to more funds for the local government to improve local infrastructure that seems to be a problem at the minute. For example, they could improve the service to make sure it minimises the length of traffic queues. 






Edexcel GCSE Computer Science   - Specimen Paper  (First exams 2018)


QuestionModern society depends on many different embedded systems to function properly. Explain one function of the embedded system in a washing machine (2m)


One function of the embedded system in the washing machine is that it monitors the weight of the load. As a result, it can adjust water levels for small/large loads.






Edexcel GCSE DT  -  SAMs-GCSE-L1-L2-in-Design-and-Technology (First exams 2019)


Question: Explain two benefits that just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing could have for the manufacturer of the wheelbarrow (4m)


One benefit of wheelbarrow manufacturers using a JIT system is that they will have much less material in stock. This is because they only make wheelbarrows when needed, therefore they have less money tied up/invested in materials they are not using. This money can be used elsewhere to meet the needs of the business, for example in the marketing of the wheelbarrows to attract customers.


Another benefit is that by not holding too many materials/end products on site, they are keeping their costs low. This is because, once the wheelbarrows have been manufactured they are shipped out, therefore no expensive fees need to be paid for storage/warehouse is required.






AQA GCSE Physics

GCSE Physics Specimen question paper Paper 1 (First exams 2018) 


Question: Explain what led to the plum pudding model of the atom being replaced by the nuclear model of the atom (6m)



An early model about the structure of the atom was called the plum pudding model. In this model, the atom was imagined to be a sphere of positive charge with negatively charged electrons dotted around inside it like plums in a pudding. One reason why the plum pudding model was replaced is because of a scientist called Rutherford who designed an experiment to test the plum pudding model.  A beam of alpha particles was aimed at very thin gold foil and their passage through the foil detected. The scientists expected the alpha particles to pass straight through the foil, but something else also happened. Some of the alpha particles emerged from the foil at different angles, and some even came straight back. As a result, the scientists realised that the positively charged alpha particles were being repelled and deflected by a tiny concentration of positive charge in the atom. Therefore, because of this experiment, the plum pudding model was replaced by the nuclear model of the atom.






Edexcel GCSE Physics

GCSE Physics Specimen question paper Paper 1 (First exams 2018) 


Question: In a nuclear reactor, a chain reaction is produced and controlled. Uranium-235 is the isotope used in many nuclear reactors. Explain how the fission of uranium-235 can lead to a chain reaction (4m)


When a uranium-235 nucleus is hit by a neutron, the nucleus splits into two smaller nuclei, which are radioactive. This will mean that two or three more neutrons are released which will result in the release of some energy. The additional neutrons released may also hit other uranium or plutonium nuclei and cause them to split. Even more neutrons are then released, which in turn can lead to a split of more nuclei. This is called a chain reaction. The chain reaction in nuclear reactors is controlled to stop it going too fast.






Edexcel GCSE History  - Specimen paper 3 (First exams 2018)


Question: Explain why Hitler was able to create a dictatorship in the period February 1933 to August 1934

You may use the following in your answer: • the Reichstag Fire • the Night of the Long Knives      (12 marks) 



Hitler held a dim view of the value of democracy, which he had consistently criticised as being un-German, and that it was a political system that had been forced upon the German people, as part of the unfair Versailles settlement.   As Hitler entered government in the winter to 1933, he did so at a time of economic depression for the nation, which was going to bring to bear a lot of pressure on the German political system. The German people had been increasingly desperate to find a solution to the growing problems in their country; and it were these problems and issues within the political system that Hitler was able to prey upon.  Hitler initially entered power in a democratic position and his vision was to change this into a more dictatorial power. Due to the fragile nature of German politics at this time, where the government had gone through a string of chancellors (e.g Bruning) in late 1932, Hitler had been able to use the increased political strength of the Nazi Party to leverage more concessions from President Hindenburg, who had resisted allowing Hitler to ascend to the Chancellorship. This was also connected to the fact that no single party was able to get an outright majority in the Reichstag, thus placing the Nazis in an influential position, which Hitler used to disrupt the democratic process, through a policy of non-cooperation.



 Having become Chancellor, another event that helped him to achieve this vision was the Reichstag Fire which happened on the 27th of February 1933. This is because an opportunity presented itself to reduce the threat of communism, a movement that had been growing for some time now.  A Dutch Communist named van der Lubbe was caught red-handed with matches and fire-lighting materials. As a result of this, Hitler used it as an excuse to arrest many of his Communist opponents, and as a major platform in his election campaign of March 1933.   The fire was so convenient that many people at the time claimed that the Nazis had burned it down, and then just blamed the Communists. On March 27th, Hitler held a general election, appealing to the German people to give him a clear mandate.   Less than 50% of the people voted Nazi, which did not give him a majority in the Reichstag. Therefore, by using the Reichstag as his driving point,  he arrested the 81 Communist deputies which gave him a majority.  Herman Goring, Hitler’s most loyal supporter Göring’s worked in the Reichstag and his  sole concern was to stultify the democratic system and the opportunity to do this more effectively happened when he was elected as speaker of the Reichstag. Nazi stormtroopers stopped opposition deputies going in, and beat up anyone who dared to speak against it, thus highlighting the weak nature of German democracy and its inability to prevent intimidation. Therefore, these events enabled Hitler`s vision of changing the democratic bureaucracy to suit his goals, and this was further enhanced when on the 23rd of March, the Reichstag voted to give Hitler the power to make his own laws. The subsequent Enabling Act resulted in making Hitler the dictator of Germany, with power to do anything he liked - legally.


He used these powers to begin to establish a dictatorship. Because of this, life under Hitler changed drastically at this time because of the impact that the change in laws were having on Germany. As a result, this affected a wide range of areas of German society, such as local government, trade unions and political parties. The Nazis took over local government and the police.   They started to replace anti-Nazi teachers and University professors. Hitler set up the Gestapo (the secret police) and encouraged Germans to report opponents and 'grumblers'. Tens of thousands of Jews, Communists, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, alcoholics and prostitutes were arrested and sent to concentration camps for 'crimes' as small as writing anti-Nazi graffiti, possessing a banned book, or saying that business was bad. This enabled Hitler to suppress much dissent within Germany and prevent an effective political opposition to the Nazis. Trade Unions offices were closed, their money confiscated, and their leaders put in prison.   In their place, Hitler put the German Labour Front which reduced workers' pay and took away the right to strike. Therefore, Hitler was able to largely prevent open democratic discourse within Germany and stop the growth of any open opposition to his aims and ambitions, thus making Germany more and more feel like a dictatorship.


Once Hitler had consolidated his position with regard to Germany`s political structure, he turned his attention to suppressing any dissent within the Nazi Party itself. One of the ways in which this happened was in the `night of the long knives` in June 1934 when Hitler used the SS to arrest and execute over 200 SA leaders, including Ernst Rohm. This allowed Hitler to consolidate his control over the Nazi Party and remove any potential threat to his power base, as by 1934 the SA had around 2 million members. As a result of this, Hitler was able to appease the German army elite and to a certain degree win over their support. This enabled Hitler to start to control another aspect of German society, namely the military, and start to plan a rearmament programme. Therefore, this further eroded the separation of powers within the German political system, as Hitler was able to control more of its areas. However, with the death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, one of the final obstacles to Hitler`s creation of a dictatorship had gone. Therefore, Hitler could takeover the position of President, practically unopposed, due to the fact that he had enough control within the German government. The significance of President Hindenburg`s death was that as a WW1 war hero, he was one of the few people left in Germany who arguably had more support from the German people than Hitler, and who potentially could have stopped or slowed down the path towards dictatorship that Germany had found itself on during the years of 1933-34.





AQA GCSE Economics -  Specimen Paper 1  How markets work  (First teaching in 2019)


Question: Explain one negative externality that could occur due to the building of a new airport (2m)


One negative externality that might arise from the building of a new airport is an increase in noise pollution. This is because of the additional road and air traffic that will arise as more people will be passing through to travel to and from the airport. 






AQA GCSE Economics -  Specimen Paper 1  How markets work  (First teaching in 2019)


Question: Using Figure 6 and 7, analyse the impact that an increase in interest rates would have on employment in the UK (6m)


As shown in the first graph there is a strong correlation between interest rates and consumer spending.  This is because if interest rates increase, consumers’ real disposable income will decrease which will lead to a reduction in spending in the economy. As a result, businesses will generate fewer sales and less revenue which will result in their having to take on fewer staff or lay off existing staff. This will eventually cause a decrease in employment.


As shown in the second graph there is a strong correlation between interest rates and business investment. This is because  If interest rates increased business investment could decline as borrowing becomes more expensive.  This will result in higher costs for businesses which will impact on their profits and growth potential. This will lead to fewer people being employed.





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