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New: sample questions and commentaries
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 5 March 2018, 11:19 PM

As a new regular feature to help students get used to answering RHS exam questions, one of our tutors is going to offer some comments on examples from both levels and Certificates. Even if not all of them relate to the topics you are studying, you may find it helpful to see how the phrasing of the questions relates to the answers required, and how the examiner's comments reflect on the question.

R2101 Feb ‘17

Q1. Complete the table below:

       i.          name the FIVE stages in the plant life cycle;

      ii.          state ONE distinct characteristic for EACH stage.

     Stage in plant life cycle

Characteristic of plant life cycle stage











This is an example of an exam question presented in the form of a table to complete. Tables are quite often used for the exam questions and generally make it easier and quicker to answer with the correct number of points.  

Part i) relates directly to the RHS syllabus:

1.3 Describe the stages in plant growth.

Describe the stages of the life-cycle of a plant: seed, juvenile (vegetative), adult (reproductive), senescence, death and their significance for horticulture.

This demonstrates the importance of being very familiar with the syllabus. To answer part i) the stages listed in the syllabus, i.e. seed, juvenile, adult, senescence and death, needed to be named in the appropriate boxes. For a question asking you to ‘name’ something, only brief answers are required.

The examiner’s comments stated that ‘most candidates were able to name the stages of the plant life cycle in the correct order, and gained full marks’.  It is important to approach questions such as this in a logical manner and list stages in the correct order, although not directly asked for in the question.

For part ii), a bit more detail is required, as this asks you to ‘state’. It links directly with the syllabus for 1.3 again.

An example of a characteristic for stage 2 – Juvenile, would be:

a stage of rapid vegetative growth without flowering or fruiting.