Tick, tick, tick – the countdown to your Geography A-Level has started! Very soon you’ll be taking your Geography A-Level exams and completing your secondary school education! While right now that may sound scary and overwhelming, there’s no need to panic. The best way to tackle your exams and begin preparing is to draw up a well thought out study plan and follow it diligently up until exam day. This will give you confidence as you go along and tick all the boxes you need to in order to be ready for your assessments. In order to support you as you prepare for your exams here is all you need to know about them and how we can help you achieve the best results.
A-Level exams are very standardised assessments despite the many confusing examination boards that you may come across. However, while most A-Level Geography exams will be similar in essence, it’s important to keep in mind what your examination board is. This will determine what small differences you have to watch out for and will help you get a sense of what the exam marker is looking for. AQA examinations are unique in that they focus more on theory than others. That means that in your AQA Geography A-Level exams you’ll encounter more questions about your broader and theoretical knowledge of geography than context-based practical questions.
About the Board
To give you some context, AQA (the Assessment and Qualification Alliance) emerged in 2000 after a series of mergers of exam boards occurred in the 1990s. In the past couple of decades, the UK parliament has debated whether A-Level courses should be graded in a modular (so that students take exams throughout the entire academic year) or linear (so that students take all of their exams at the end of the year) way. As of now, the AQA A-Level Geography is a linear subject, which means that you’ll take all of your exams at the end of the academic year.
How long will the course take to complete?
How long this course will take to complete will depend on whether you elected to take just the AS course or the full A-Level. If you chose to take just the AS course, then it will take 1 year to complete. If you elected to take the full A-Level, then it will take two full academic years to complete. You are free to choose whether you take the full A-Level or not, but when deciding don’t forget to think about your future. Most universities require a minimum number of UCAS points for admission. This means that most will require you to have completed at least three full A-Levels in order to accept you.
Is any prior knowledge required?
While there are no requirements of previous knowledge laid out by the AQA examination board, you are recommended to have completed the GCSE Geography course (or equivalent) prior to starting AQA A-Level Geography.
What will I study?
As you may know, the subject of geography is usually split into two strands: physical geography and human geography. Within physical geography, you will cover water and carbon cycles; hot desert systems and landscapes; coastal systems and landscapes; glacial systems and landscapes; hazards; and, ecosystems under stress. Meanwhile, within human geography you will cover global systems and global governance; changing places; contemporary urban environments; population and the environment; and, resource security.
What is the examination process like?
In order to get your AQA A-Level Geography Certificate, you’ll have to pass two written examinations and one fieldwork exercise. The first paper (Physical Geography) will be worth 40% of your final grade and will last 2 hours and 30 minutes. The second paper (Human Geography) will also be worth 40% and last 2 hours and 30 minutes. The third component of your examination (Geography Fieldwork Investigation) will be completed as 3-4,000-word coursework and will be worth 20% of your final grade. This split into three assessments takes the pressure off a little and allows you to play to your strengths in your Geography A-Level. But do bear in mind that doing poorly on one of your papers can pull down your overall grade so make sure you place emphasis on all three components whilst revising.
You are advised to revise a few hours each day for your geography exams. Three to four hours per day should do the trick. It’s tempting to get distracted with what’s on television and social media so stay away from those activities during revision hours. The best tactic is to leave all those things for the end of your revision session as a form of a reward for all your hard work that day. Revising is not just about reading your textbook. Geography is a very practical subject so start making mind maps and flashcards in order to remember your definitions and learn your ecosystems. Revising actively by taking notes rather than just reading will increase your chances of doing well in your exams as you will have an easier time remember topics that you’ve written down. As you get closer to your exams, you’re also highly recommended to use past papers while revising. Past exam papers are your number one source for finding out what to expect come exam day. Read them and start timing yourself to ensure that not only have you learned all your content but that you know how to manage your time in the exam. All of us at A-Level Geography are cheering for you to do well. In order to help you achieve we have plenty of engaging material such as quizzes, past papers, and maps waiting for you. So let’s get started!