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Geofile Exam Techniques As

Geofile Exam Techniques As

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This
Geofile
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.:
SEPTEMBER 2002
432Lynda Evans
Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002
Exam Techniques for AS Level
Geofile
Online
 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
 
‘With reference to a named urbansettlement in an LEDC which hasundergone rapid populationgrowth:i)outline the causes for the rapidgrowthii)describe and explain theenvironmental problems whichhave resulted from this rapidurban growth.’As a general rule of thumb, providingthat what you write is relevant anddetailed, one mark for an answerequates to three lines of writing. If youuse the extra writing pages provided atthe back of the examination booklet,make sure each continuation sheet isclearly numbered.Sometimes a diagram or sketch mapmay be required as part of the answer,e.g.:‘Draw an annotated diagram toexplain the physical and humancharacteristics of a floodplain youhave studied.’Exam boards can be quite strict about‘annotations’ – these are reallydetailed labels which must be linkedaccurately to a map or diagram withlines or arrows. Text underneath ornear a map is not considered to beannotation and will not be credited,even if it is correct. Figure 3 providesan example of a good, well-annotatedsketch map.Within the examinations beingstudied here, OCR Specification B isthe only one with a different format –three-part extended writingquestions. Really the only differencehere is that you will need to work outa clear structure to each answer. SeeFigure 4 for an example.
Points for success in writtenas examinations
Figure 6 is a summary diagramillustrating the key aspects of successat AS level Geography. To ensure youare able to cover all of these, thefollowing long-term strategies shouldbe used:keep a glossary of words as yourcourse progresses, and learn theseregularlyhighlight your notes using colourto draw attention to definitions,processes and specific case studyfactslook at the examination boardweb-sites for student guides andspecimen questions to practiseplan a thorough programme of revision leading up to your examswrite a list of all the topics studiedand the case studies associatedwith each onemake case study revisionnotes/cards from which you canlearn key facts and figures.Once in the examination, make sureyou read each question through oncebefore deciding which you intend toanswer. As you do this, it is a goodidea to:make brief, rough notes on anydefinitions, processes and keyideas you may neednote down any possible casestudies you could useunderline or highlight thecommand words in each questionand make sure you bothunderstand and can answer them.(Figure 5 provides a list of themost common command wordsand their meanings.)
Coursework and fieldwork
Fieldwork is an integral part of ASGeography, as it supports many of theunderlying concepts and theories youwill be studying as well as providing
September 2002no.432Exam Techniques for AS Level
Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002
 Figure 2: An example of a good extended writing answer Figure 3: An example of an annotated sketch map Figure 4: An example of a three-part, extended writing AS exam question(taken from OCR Specimen Materials Geography B)
(a) Use the information in [Figure 1] to suggest reasons why the population of South Molton changed between 1951 and 1991. (9)(b) Explain why the edges of many urban areas in the UK are the locations of most new development. (9)(c) Name an inner-city redevelopment scheme that you have studied, outline itsmain objectives and evaluate whether or not it has been a success. (12)
Major rivers carry large amountsof sediment. For one or morenamed drainage basins examinehow this sediment can be both abenefit and a problem.
The Nile’s sediment was used tobuild its delta, make bricks andprovide fertile alluvium to thefarming lands on the floodplain.Without it the delta is being eroded,closing sardine fisheries which usedto exist there. Jobs are lost as brickscannot be made without sedimentand crops are poor without the richalluvium. This demonstrates howuseful the sediment was. Howeverwith the building of the Aswan Dam,sediment is now building up in thereservoir behind the dam, reducingits efficiency. It takes up much spacethat should be occupied by water.The same thing has happened inGhana where the Akosombo Dam isacting as a sediment trap, interferingwith the HEP turbines. Down riverland is being rapidly eroded alongthe coastline as the sediment whichwould have provided beach materialis trapped behind the dam leavingthe coast vulnerable to erosion.
 
September 2002no.432Exam Techniques for AS Level
Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002
you with detailed, relevant local andsmall-scale case studies which can bereferred to in the exams. Between themain exam boards, coursework andfieldwork are assessed in three mainways:by a discrete coursework module,e.g. Edexcel B where you willundertake an EnvironmentalInvestigation based on group orindividual data collection,followed by a written report of 2,500 wordsby carrying out fieldwork andwriting a summarising 1,000 wordreport, combined with a writtenexam on techniques of collectionand analysis. The report issubmitted with the exam as forOCR A and Bdata collection and analyticaltechniques practised asappropriate throughout the courseand assessed within any of thewritten examinations as in AQAB.All three methods have elements incommon and it is likely you will beasked to do some or all of thefollowing:identify a geographical questionor issue (e.g. ‘What is the impactof tourism on the sand dunes atX?’)select appropriate sources of information and methods (e.g.what primary and secondary datamight be needed? Should anysampling techniques beemployed?)identify, select and collectquantitative and qualitativeevidence from primary sourcesand fieldwork (e.g. measurementsof footpath erosion,questionnaires to visitors toestablish use of area)identify, select and collectquantitative and qualitative datafrom secondary sources (e.g.theoretical dune transect,information from localconservation groups)organise, record and present suchevidence in cartographic anddiagrammatic form (e.g. kitediagrams, pie charts, opinionlines)describe, analyse, evaluate andinterpret evidence and drawconclusionsevaluate enquiry methods usedand the limitations of data andconclusions drawn.It is vitally important that thiselement of the AS Course iscompleted to the very best of yourability. AS coursework is no longerthan GCSE coursework, but involvesgreater individual choice of topic andtechniques as well as a greater degreeof sophistication in terms of datacollection, analysis and techniquesused. Good time management isneeded, especially as you may wellhave coursework in other subjects aswell. Stick to internal deadlines andallow plenty of time to draft and re-draft work, especially any concludingor evaluation sections, which areoften rushed and poorly completed.Good coursework really does helpfinal grades.
 Figure 5: Key command words used in AS examinations
Answeringstructured (short)questions or partsof questionsWriting a shortpiece of extendedprose – a mini essayData responsequestions – practiseusing mark schemes
Fitting answer lengthsto mark weightingsMaking every wordcountLearning a range of definitionsPrecision in answersUsing geographicalterminologyLearning easy-to-drawsketch maps anddiagrams whichsummarise informationLots of facts linked torelevant examplesWell learntcase studiesObeying thecommand word(s)Planning andwriting qualityproseDescribing graphstechnicallyPrecisely describingdistribution on a mapPrecis of a newspaperarticleMatching an aerialphotograph to a map Annotating ordescribing adiagramEvaluatingviewsSummarisinga table
 Figure 6: The Key to success at AS Level
 
Reading and understanding sections of articles and textUsing tabulated dataInterpreting 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 OSmapsInterpreting land use mapsUnderstanding and drawing choroplethand isopleth mapsInterpreting and annotating aerial andsatellite photographsCompleting annotated sketches in thefield or from photographsDrawing annotated sketch mapsDrawing and interpreting line graphs andcumulative line graphs, bar charts andhistograms, pie graphs and dividedbars, scatter graphs, best-fit linesConstructing and reading flow line mapsDrawing sections, cross sections andlong sectionsDrawing and understanding proportionalsymbols
 Figure 7: Geographical Skills
Command Word Explanation
describe state, with evidence if possible, what something islikeexplain give reasons for…define give the exact meaning of suggest provide a possible idea, method, solution,reasons....outline state, possibly in a liststate briefly say, give informationcomment on describe and explain/suggest reasons forevaluate look at evidence for and against, weigh up costsand benefits, decide how successful…discuss put forward different ideas, possible reasons,viewpoints etc…

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