Many subjects, such as geography, biology,
PE and maths use tables of data in exams for data response or data
stimulus questions. These questions ask you to make some comment
about a set of information.
In an exam, you are being asked to
communicate with the examiner. He or she does not know you and
cannot be expected to show you any favours. For example, you may
think something is obvious but you must still tell the examiners -
otherwise they do not know what you are thinking. You will not be
given any credit for something that you have not shown. You also
need to be clear and keep to the point.
When describing a set of data there are
certain features that you should look out for:
- the highest value (the maximum).
- the lowest value (the minimum).
- the trend or general pattern.
- any exceptions.
Not all sets of information will allow you
to show all these features but if you keep them in mind you will
get the correct answer across to the examiner. You should use the
data to support your answer: this means that you must name names
and quote figures.
For example, this table shows the
composition of food (per 100 grams)
You might be asked to:
"Study the table which shows the nutritional
value of foods commonly used on bread" and then answer the
Question 1 Using the data
given show which food gives the most energy per 100g (2 marks)
Answer Marmite provides the
most energy. It gives more than twice the amount of energy as
cheese does and more than three times as much as jam or tuna
Examiner's comment For 2
marks learners will need to say more than just "Marmite". They will
need to use the data, as has been done in this answer. The student
has correctly identified Marmite, and also gone on to compare it
with other foods. She has also adapted the data and converted it
into comparative amounts.
Question 2 Which foods
provide most protein and which provide most carbohydrates. Is there
any pattern that you can see? (5 marks)
Answer Marmite, cheese and
tuna paste are all good sources of protein. Marmite contains the
largest by far, but even tuna paste contains about 40 times as much
protein per 100g as does sugar or honey. By contrast, jam and
honey, which are very low in protein, are very high in
carbohydrates (66g per 100g and 80g per 100g) whereas Marmite (7g
per 100g) cheese and tuna paste (both 0.1g per 100g) are low in
carbohydrates. Thus, the foods with a lot of protein contain few
carbohydrates whereas those rich in carbohydrates have small
amounts of protein.
Examiner's comment This
question is worth 5 marks. Sometimes we may look for five points or
better still three points supported with evidence from the table.
Here the student has identified the basic difference between the
quality foods (cheese and Marmite) and the quantity or energy foods
(jam and honey). She has used data to support her answer and uses
words and phrases such as "by contrast", "hence" and "thus". There
is a real feeling that the student is on top of the subject and has
communicated this clearly to me. 5/5 - full marks!
Question 3 Which of the
foods mentioned in the table is best? Give reasons to support your
answer. (5 marks)
Answer I think Marmite is
the best food. It contains lots of protein and gives lots of energy
although it hasn't got many carbohydrates.
Examiner's comment This is
not a strong answer. The data is not used effectively - there is
no comparison with the other foods, and the student has not quoted
any evidence. However, she has correctly identified Marmite as the
best food (we would accept cheese or tuna as an answer providing it
is supported with evidence) but has not used the data to support
her answer. 2/5.
A better answer might read: Marmite is the
best food. This is because it contains extremely high levels of
protein (45g per 100g) and provides much energy (886 cals per
100g). By contrast cheese, which is another quality food, only
provides about half as much energy and protein. Jam and honey,
although they are high in carbohydrates, are low in protein and
energy. So, on the evidence provided I think that Marmite is the
best food (pity about the taste!).