Now that the exam marking season is over once again, here are my observations after marking hundreds of GCSE Geography papers again this summer.
As usual, there were some excellent answers provided by students, showing their detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject. However, some did not score as well as they could due to some simple errors.
Here are my observations based on my experience marking this year, to help make sure you achieve the best grade you possibly can:
No 1: Do not repeat the question at the start of your answer.
Question: Explain two limitations of emergency aid when responding to natural hazards .
Answer: ‘Two limitations of emergency aid when responding to natural hazards are….’ There is no need to repeat the question. I can see it for myself, it is directly above the answer you are about to give. Just launch straight into the answer. There is limited space available, so use it wisely.
No 2 – Make sure your writing is legible. You may be rushing to try and get through the paper, but if I can’t read it, then I can’t award it marks. If you know your handwriting can become messy and difficult to read, you could write IN CAPITALS if this makes it clearer.
No 3 – Stick to the space provided for each individual question.
Papers are now marked on screen after individual questions and answers are scanned. If you do not keep within the boundaries provided, the part of your answer you have squashed down the side or bottom of the page will not appear on my screen, so I will not see it.
Don’t squash your answer up so that it goes outside the margins, use the extra sheets and clearly number the answer that you are continuing – otherwise it will not be attached to the first part when your answer is scanned. As a result, it may not be seen.
No 4 – In extended answers, structure your sentences. Use sentence starters and connectives – especially when being asked to explain – once you have written something, think ‘so what?’ – elaborate! Make it obvious to the examiner that you are explaining a point e.g. X happened so Y is the result.
No 5 – When describing patterns on a world map, be specific. ‘Above the equator’ or ‘below the equator’ is not good enough. Neither is ‘north of the equator’. This covers a huge area. Be specific. e.g ‘in a band between the equator and 15 degrees north’ is much better.
No 6 – When describing the path of something. Use evidence from the map provided (distance, direction, dates etc). Make sure you describe it from start to finish.
Question – Describe the track of Cyclone Nargis [4 marks]
E.g. ‘From midnight on the 2nd of May the cyclone moved ENE, hitting the coast south west of Labutta at noon on the 2nd of May. From there it travelled 300 km into Burma, hitting Rangoon on 03/05/08, before veering NNE into the west of Thailand….’
‘On Friday 02/05/08 it went towards Burma and then up to Thailand’ is not good enough.
I have also compiled a few additional examples of exam questions, answers and tips here:
David Drake – July 2018