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Exam technique advice

GCSE (AQA) Business Studies Exam Skills: How to Answer a 4 Mark Question

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at how to develop your exam skills and maximise your marks in GCSE (AQA) Business Studies.

Four mark questions (in my opinion) are the key to success in the GCSE Business Studies exams. It is still possible to drop 2 or 3 marks in the 9 mark questions and gain an A*, but in this instance it is absolutely vital to gain full marks in the 4 mark questions. The 4 mark questions tend to have the command words "Describe", "explain" or "calculate". To maximise your chances of achieving 4 out of 4, follow these simple rules.

  • Spend approximately 3 minutes on a 4 mark question.
  • Never define the term given in the question unless the question asks for this. In this case, it would be a knowledge question and the command word given would be "State" or "Define" and would be worth less marks.
  • Take note of whether the question is asking specifically for two points. If it does, two points must be included, applied to the Item and explained using connectives. The explanation should be in context too. Never provide a list of points.
  • If the question does not say include two points/factors then just one point could be given in the response, although two points could be included (but never more than 2).
  • If you decide to include only one point then this point must be explained in context using a very detailed chain of analysis via the use of connectives e.g. - "this means that XXXXXX will offer better customer service resulting in positive word of mouth recommendations, leading to a better reputation meaning more sales".
  • Remember the point(s) should be taken from the Item and explained in context.
  • Use the phrasing of the question to keep your answer focussed.
  • If the 4 mark question is a calculation question, remember to include all labelled workings in your response and make sure the final answer is clearly identified.
  • Do not cross through any working out as crossed out work cannot be marked and if the final answer is incorrect you may have lost marks for correct working out

By following the above advice and with plenty of practice, you will significantly increase your chances of gaining full marks on the 4 mark questions.

In my next blog I will be looking at how to answer the all-important 9 mark questions.

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