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Sample question: Level 3
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 26 March 2018, 11:31 AM

R3101 Feb ‘17

Q1 a) Describe the structural characteristics of conifers

6 marks

b) State FOUR ways by which the reproduction in conifers differs from that of ferns by completing the table below.

4 marks
























This question comes from Outcome 1.1 of the syllabus:

1.1  Describe the major groups of the Plant Kingdom.







List the main groups within bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Describe and compare the structural and reproductive characteristics of: mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants in relation to their adaptation to terrestrial life.


Part a) requires a reasonably long answer as you are asked to ‘describe’. For this you need to identify or name structural characteristics and carry on to describe them. For example: conifers have xylem tissue which consists of tracheids only, with no vessels. The tracheids have bordered pits in their walls acting as valves to control the flow of water.

Other structural characteristics listed in the examiner’s comments are needle-shaped leaves, sunken stomata and resin ducts.

The examiner’s comments also mentioned that ‘Many candidates gave reproductive characteristics rather than structural ones’. This highlights the importance of reading the question carefully, as it is so easy to rush into a question and include everything you know about conifers!

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

Paired answers were expected for this answer, such as:

Dispersal by seed/ dispersal by spores

Pollen transferred by wind/ sperm transferred in water

The examiner’s comments pointed out that ‘Negative statements e.g. conifers produce seeds whereas ferns do not were not fully credited’. This is important to remember for any similar question – you need to say something about each to gain the marks.