This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why do I keep losing marks for my Science?

That appears to be a very common question among students. Very often, they are puzzled why their friends are able to score 2 marks for a question, while they score only 1 or half mark, for what appears to be very similar answers given.

To understand how a student scores or loses marks, you must understand exactly what the examiner looks for, when he or she is marking the exam paper. Since most marks are lost in Section B, in this post, we will touch on Section B type questions only.

An examiner looks for two things in an answer, when he or she marks Section B questions. They are:

1. Key word(s)
2. Key concept(s)

Key word is the word that forms the main answer. This word tells the examiner if the student knows his or her work. If the key word is missing in the answer, the examiner will doubt that the student knows his or her work.

Key concept is the explanation of the concept that has been applied in the answer. It tells the examiner if the student understands the theory, concept and its application. If the key concept is missing in the answer, the examiner will believe that although the student has the answer, he or she does not have a full understanding of the concept(s) involved.

Below, is a Sample Question, followed by a Sample Answer.

Question - Raju put some ice into a glass of water. After a while, he noticed that water droplets started to appear on the outside of the glass. What caused the droplets of water to form?
(2 marks)

Sample Answer

When the water vapour in the air comes in contact with the cold surface of the glass, condensation takes place and water droplets are formed on the outside of the glass.

In the sample answer above, the key word is in red, while the key concept is in blue. The above answer is sufficient to score the 2 full marks.

The key word here is “condensation”. Without this word, it makes it very difficult for the examiner to give the student any mark, let alone full marks. This is because if “condensation” is missing, it tells the examiner that the student does not know what has been asked.

The key concept on the other hand, tells the examiner that the student knows that condensation has taken place, and more importantly, tells the examiner that the student knows under what conditions condensation takes place.

Hence, this question tests on knowledge (what is condensation) and understanding (how condensation changes the state of water and under what circumstances these changes will take place).

If the student simply answers “condensation” without further explanation, he/she will get less than 2 marks.

If the student explains the process of condensation, without mentioning the word “condensation”, then it all depends how convinced the examiner(s) is/are, that the student has understood the concept of condensation, by studying the answer given. However, more often than not, examiners will not be convinced.

Having mentioned that, even if the student does manage to convince the examiner(s), he/she will still not get the 2 full marks.

The student must give both, the key word and the key concept, to score full marks.

The above article was published in Excel!, a publication of Excel Eduservice, in March 2006.
(Publication Permit No: MICA (P) 135/03/2006)
All rights reserved.

Related article: Handling “Section A” Questions for Science


ME said...

In labelling questions must I draw a line or an arrow?

Excel Eduservice said...

It helps a lot if you do.

Anonymous said...

but its hard to explain.

Zoey YEO said...

Yah!It is very good as it helps us a lot.It tells us that this is the keyword for the question.

Anonymous said...

Is condensation the only thing that took place ?

LittleMissCuriousCat said...

Hello to whoever is online. I am currently p6 this year in 2011, which means I'm taking my PSLE!!! I need help form you guys. Can any of you gimme a website that gives you tips on Science Graph analysis? If yes, please state the URL link. Thanks!! :D


Anonymous said...

its really helpful...thnks alot

Anonymous said...

thanks alot. i now know what to look out for when answering science questoins:)

Anonymous said...

very good