What can we learn from the GCSE Geography exams?

The dust has finally settled on the 2018 exams; students have received their results and the examiners have now published their reports. We’ve done the hard work for you and read up on where GCSE students succeeded this year, and where they needed some help, and gathered together some resources from Oxford that could help your current cohort.

Key issues in the exam

Unsubstantiated or simple answers: some students struggled to fully develop their answers and made general assertions. Use of case studies was at times inaccurate or vague. Weaker responses saw students fail to use deduction and interrogation skills to make full use of figures.

Vocabulary: many students did not show a strong grasp of core subject vocabulary which limited their ability to access the questions e.g. relief, intermediate technology.

Command words: students would also benefit from a firmer grasp of command words e.g. justify, to what extent, evaluation.

Map skills: many students struggled with the combined use of OS maps and photographs. They also struggled to measure correct distance using scale, with very few students using a ruler.

Mathematical skills: students made basic errors in calculations, particularly calculating a percentage, and would benefit from further practice here.

Fieldwork: experience of fieldwork was varied, with some students unable to apply their knowledge and experience to the questions being asked. Some students did not show an understanding of the full enquiry processes, and would do better to select evidence to support their decision more carefully.

Reading the question: Students were tripped up by not answering or part-answering the questions. Students need to pay careful attention to command words, re-reading all questions and being clear about what is being asked of them before they start writing.

Exam support from Oxford

An On your marks activity from GCSE 9-1 Geography OCR B Kerboodle

Complete, all round support for exam-style essay preparation, the On Your Marks activities from Kerboodle guide students through answering questions in their exam. This resource also demonstrates how students can use case studies in their answers.

On your marks resources: An exam-style, level-marked question. Includes planning guidance, mark scheme for self- or peer-marking, and three to five sample answers at a range of levels.
On your marks presentation: An interactive version of the exam-style question, which enables students to ‘unpick’ the question and to complete their answer on-screen.

A glossary worksheet from GCSE 9-1 Geography Edexcel B Kerboodle

A worksheet that encourages students to learn the geographical terminology for each chapter. The worksheet can be completed by students as they work through a topic and kept for revision time.

A sample from GCSE 9-1 Geography AQA Exam Practice

These pages walk students through answering exam questions that include the command word “justify.”

A Skills-pod activity from GCSE 9-1 Geography OCR B Kerboodle

An animation with interactive activities to help students with using percentages in Geography.

A sample from GCSE 9-1 Geography AQA Fieldwork

These pages help students get to grips with selecting, measuring and recording appropriate data when answering questions on fieldwork.