provides anintroduction into the content of andexamination methods used in ASGeography courses, with a focus onthose offered by the AQA, Edexceland OCR examination boards. Whilsteach specification is unique in bothits coverage of geographicalknowledge and examinationmethods, there are also manysimilarities and common approachesto both learning and assessment. It isthese common approaches and howstudents can best prepare for them inAS examinations which will beexamined here.
The AS examinations
Answering data response questions
Most AS examinations useassessment techniques known as dataresponse questions. You willprobably be used to these at GCSElevel – a resource such as a graph,photograph, table or chart is used tointroduce a topic, and questions areasked about the resource and itsassociated subject. Questions getprogressively harder and often endwith a short piece of extendedwriting. It is important that youunderstand how to tackle differentparts of a question and practise doingso – especially for the longer sections,where more detailed, specificlocational knowledge may be needed.As far as the coursework element isconcerned, there is greater variationin the methods used, and these willbe considered later.Figure 1 shows some of the types of data response resources provided. Inaddition, maps and OS map extracts,newspaper headlines and cartoonsmay also be used. The key to successin these earlier sections is to makesufficient use of the informationprovided – easy marks can be gainedin this way! To ensure you do this,spend a few minutes at the startmaking sure you understand theresources provided.Below are some possible approachesto questions based on the resources inFigure 1:1a) – You might be asked to describeand explain/account for the patternsof migration shown. In this case lookfirst for any overall trends (declineuntil 1971, then increase), state whatthey are and back up what you saywith numbers from the table. Thentry to think of reasons to explain eachtrend (causes of early ruraldepopulation, later process of counter-urbanisation).1b) – For this type of resource youneed to understand specificecosystem terminology, e.g. biomass,humification, weathering andleaching.1c) – Similar to 1b) but this timeterminology relates to humangeography. The diagrams may befamiliar to you or they may becompletely new; either way, the mostimportant thing is to study themcarefully and use them to supportyour answers wherever possible.Many exams ask you to choose from arange of questions – if this is the case,try not to be too quickly encouragedby a resource which looks easy orfamiliar and, equally, don’t be put off by unfamiliar or seemingly difficultresources. Study both the resourceand the complete question carefully –sometimes questions which start wellmay have difficult case studyrequirements at the end. Remember,you can’t change your mind halfwaythrough a question!
Answering extended writingquestions
Some typical questions of this naturemight be:•‘Using examples you have studied,show how the improvement of shanty towns may bring bothpositive and negative effects.’•‘With references to examples,describe how both physical andhuman factors might influencethe volume of migration.’•Explain the formation of alandform of emergence you havestudied.’•‘Explain the formation of alocated landform of coastalerosion that you have studied.’Such questions are usually worthbetween 6 and 10 marks and requirespecific, detailed locationalknowledge. (See Figure 2 for anexample of a good answer to this typeof question.)In some cases two longer sectionsmay be combined to form one part of a question e.g.:
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Exam Techniques for AS Level
Figure 1: Some typical AS exam resources1(b) Model of nutrient recycling1(c) Model of international migration
1(a) Population change in South Molton Rural District, 1951—91 (Chafley, 1994)1951–61 1961–71 1971–81 1981–91
Population change (no.) -1041 -93 1790 1753Population change (%) -9 -1 16 13No. of parishes with 2 9 24 23increasing populationNo. of parishes with 27 20 5 6decreasing population