Using CUSTARD for long-answer questions

Have you tried the CUSTARD method to answer extended descriptive questions?

We know how scary 6-mark exam questions can be, but unfortunately, there’s no escaping them! Do not fear though, help is at hand! This quick 2-minute read will help you to understand one approach to answering extended or essay-style questions, PLUS it can be used across subjects!

What is CUSTARD?

CUSTARD is one way of approaching long-answer questions, to allow you to break down what is required, and find clues in the question prompt so you can be more confident in attempting an answer!

CUSTARD stands for:

C -> CIRCLE COMMAND WORDS (describe, explain, compare, contrast, justify etc)

U -> UNDERLINE KEY WORDS (these will be subject specific)

S -> SCRIBBLE EXTRA WORDS/KNOWLEDGE that might be useful to your answer

T -> THINK about how to formulate SENTENCES with the words and information you have so far

A -> ACCOUNT for every MARK or every PART of the question

R -> READ your ANSWER and correct any mistakes

D -> DON’T RUSH - this is super important, you DO have time to complete these questions in the exam! Make sure you PLAN YOUR TIME!

What does CUSTARD look like IRL?

Here’s an example of a long-answer exam-style question, with the first 2 parts completed, and a model answer with extra words highlighted. This would gain full marks in an exam!

The equation to calculate density is density = mass/volume. For each object, you will need the mass and the volume to work out the density. To work out the mass of each object the you would need to use a digital balance and record this in grams.

To work out the volume of the regular object, use a ruler to record the length of the three sides, and then multiply these together (volume = length x width x height) in cm³. Divide the mass of the regular object by this volume to get the density, in g/cm.

To work out the volume of the irregular object, the you would need to fill a eureka can with water to the brim, and place a measuring cylinder under the spout. Then add the object to the can and collect the overflow using the measuring cylinder. The volume of the overflow is the volume of the object. Divide the mass of the irregular object by this volume to get the density, in g/cm.

As you can see, this model answer includes the calculation, equipment, and measurements that were asked for in the question, and accounts for both the regular and irregular objects. FULL MARKS!

Try it yourself on some past exam questions, and see if it helps!

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