Sunday, November 07, 2010

Gain up to 10% more marks with better technique

Let's say your English teacher said describe the character Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.

Then they asked you to explain the characters behaviour.

I'm sure you will agree these are two very different questions.

One of the biggest losses of marks in Biology exam is when students get these two command terms mixed up.

Page 11-12  of the IB Biology syllabus states:

1. Describe means to give a detailed account.

2. Explain means to give a detailed account of causes, reasons and mechanisms


1) Describe the effect of temperature on the rate of photosynthesis.
  • The answer needs a description of the pattern and should include a reference to the x-axis variable, y-axis variable and changing shape...try it.
2) Explain the effect of temperature on the rate of photosynthesis.
  • In this one we are trying to find the causes of the changing pattern.
  • Reasons for the changing pattern
  • The mechanism of the changing pattern. Try it. 
Describe and explain are two of the most commonly confused command terms that are found in the IB examination.