CIE IGCSE Geography – Revision Notes & Study Resources

Congrats, you’re almost there – in just a few weeks you’ll be taking your IGCSE Geography exams and then the world will really be your oyster! As the exams get closer though, what lies ahead may start to overwhelm you a little. But don’t worry all the help you need is right here! We’re here to tell you about your next steps and to reassure you that this is your time to shine! First thing’s first – you need to write a well-structured and thorough revision plan. The sooner you get that out of the way the better you will feel. This is because once you have a good plan then all that’s left to do is follow it carefully. Here is all you have to know in order to do that well and also how we can be of help.

(I)GCSEs are fairly standardised forms of examination. This is largely done in order to give everyone an equal chance at success. However, because there are different exam boards there are also small differences between how you’ll be assessed depending on your exam board. This is very important to bear in mind when planning your revision as there are optimal ways to prepare for different types of exams. The unique thing about OCR exams is that you can select whether you will have a coursework component or not. The sooner you do that the sooner you can focus on either completing that coursework or on preparing for three written exam papers as opposed to only two. You’re advised to choose carefully based on what kind of assessment you prefer (with limited wording but not time limit or under timed conditions).

About the Board

CIE, or the Cambridge Assessment International Education board, is one of the oldest examination boards in the UK. It was first created as a division of the University of Cambridge in the 19th century. Today it remains under the wing of the University of Cambridge as it continues to offer secondary school certifications. The CIE IGCSE Geography course is assessed as a ‘linear’ and not ‘modular’ subject. This means that you’ll be tested on everything you’ve learned at the end of the course and not throughout it. It does not, however, mean that you shouldn’t pay attention throughout the course!

How long will the course take to complete?

The CIE board specifies that the IGCSE Geography course is designed for about 130 guided learning hours. When you are likely covering 10-12 other subjects for your (I)GCSEs this usually means that the course will take two academic years to complete. However, it is possible for it to take more or less time depending on the circumstances.

Is any prior knowledge required?

While there is no requirement as such of prior knowledge, the CIE board does recommend that those who are starting the IGCSE Geography course have studied a geography curriculum at earlier stages of education (Key Stage 3 or equivalent). This course does, however, assume basic mathematical skills.

What will I study?

The CIE board breaks down the subject content of IGCSE Geography into three broad themes: population and settlement; the natural environment; and, economic development.

Within population and settlement, you will study population dynamics, migration, population structure, population density and distribution, settlements (rural and urban) and service provision, urban settlements, and urbanisation. Meanwhile, within the natural environment, you will study earthquakes and volcanoes, rivers, coasts, weather, and climate and natural vegetation. Finally, within economic development, you’ll study development, food production, industry, tourism, energy, water, and environmental risks of economic development.

What is the examination process like?

Much like the subject content, the examination process is also split into three parts. Firstly, all candidates are required to take Paper 1 (Geographical Themes) which will last 1 hour and 45 minutes and be worth 45% of your final grade. Next, all candidates must sit Paper 2 (Geographical Skills) which will last 1 hour and 30 minutes and be worth 27.5% of your final grade. Finally, candidates can choose whether the third component of their assessment (worth 27.5% of the overall grade) is coursework or a written paper. If it is coursework, then the student must write a centre-based assignment of up to 2,000 words. Otherwise, the student must take Paper 4 (Alternative Coursework) which will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and require students to answer two compulsory questions, completing a series of written tasks.

Study Tips

To get the very based grades in your CIE IGCSE Geography exams, you should be studying for two to three hours each day. This is the amount of time which is considered ideal as it strikes the balance between working long enough to delve into topics properly, but not working so long that you risk burnout. To make the best possible use of your two to three hours, set your phone and any distractions like the telly aside for that time. Instead, keep them as a treat for yourself after the end of a hard day’s work. You’ll soon see yourself becoming more efficient!

Another way to stay efficient during revision season is to switch between revision techniques as you go along. Don’t just read or just take notes. Instead, spend some time doing flashcards then switch over to mind maps and then back to reading. That way your brain will stay active throughout and retain the greatest amount of information. As exam day gets closer start reading past papers – these will help you get a sense of what to expect on the big day. They’ll also give you a chance to test yourself under timed conditions which will leave you feeling much more relaxed about the exam itself. Don’t forget you have an ally in all of this – we’re here to help you succeed! To do that we have lots of engaging prep material for you. So let us begin!