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How to handle data response questions

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Data response questions are common in A level and O level exams. You will come across them in several subjects such as Business, Economics, Accounting, English language etc...

Data response questions generally consist of a case study (or scenario) and a series of questions based on the case study

Top tips for data response questions

The following are some top tips to correctly deal with data response questions:

  1. Understand the requirements and interpret them correctly

  2. Actively read scenario-based questions, highlighting the information that is relevant for each part of the requirement

  3. For questions requiring calculations, carefully structure and clearly set out your calculations with all workings shown in an easy-to-follow layout

  4. For questions requiring a written answer, write accurately and coherently, using simple English rather than long, rambling sentences which have no structure and no real content

Reading the requirements

The requirement should always be the first thing that you look at in a question.

What is the point in reading a scenario if you don't know what you are looking for?

If you don't read and understand the requirements carefully, then you will find that you are not actually answering the question. If you are not answering the question, then you are not earning marks.

The content

When you read each part of the requirement, highlight the 'content'. This is simply what the question is about.

This helps you to focus your mind on answering the actual question rather than answering what you thought the question was going to ask you.

The instructions

This instruction could be a whole variety of verbs ranging from numerical requirements such as calculate and apply; or more wordy requirements such as describe, interpret, outline or compare.

The verb used has been carefully thought about by the examiner, taking into account any restrictions imposed by the syllabus.

How much to write?

How much an examiner expects you to write is directly linked to the marks available and therefore the time available.

Do not spend half an hour on a question that is only worth five marks when the examiner expected you to spend around 10 minutes on it.

As well as allocating time to individual questions, you should allocate time to individual requirements in questions.


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