Congratulations, you’ve put in a lot of work and now it’s almost time to take your OCR Geography A-Level exams! As they get closer, you may start to feel overwhelmed with how much ground you have to cover in a short period of time. But don’t worry – we’re here to help! Your first step to success is sitting down and writing a thorough and well-structured revision plan. This should be your study bible in the upcoming weeks as it will guide you through thick and thin and keep you on track to acing your exams. Following a structured plan each day will also make it easier to tackle a large amount of content without getting nervous or overwhelmed. Here’s all you need to know about the weeks ahead and how we can help.
You may have heard that A-Levels are fairly standardised examinations across the United Kingdom in order to ensure a fair playing ground for people seeking university placements, apprenticeships or jobs later. However, there are small differences between exam boards in the way that they examine students. Knowing this can go a long way to helping you plan your revision. For example, OCR exams are notorious for being more context- and practical-based. This means that they’ll test your knowledge more often through practical questions than through direct probes into your knowledge of geographical terms and processes. The best way to tackle preparing for exams like these is to begin looking at past papers early on in the process.
About the Board
OCR – the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations exam board was formed all the way in 1998 following several mergers, abolitions, and handovers in the preceding five years. OCR is one of the largest examination boards today and is being run by the University of Cambridge. Like most subjects today, OCR A-Level Geography is taught as a ‘linear subject’. This means that you will be assessed at the end of the academic year (or two) as opposed to throughout the year (which would happen if this was a modular subject).
How long will the course take to complete?
It will take you one year to complete the OCR AS Level Geography course. As for the OCR A-Level Geography course, that will take two full academic years. You can choose either option, but when making the decision about how long you will study geography keep in mind your future academic studies. Most universities require a minimum of 3 full A-Levels to accept you, and some courses may even require that one of those three be geography in order to admit you.
Is any prior knowledge required?
OCR does not require you to have acquired any particular qualification prior to taking A-Level Geography. Instead, it is recommended that you come into the course having taken GCSE Geography (or the equivalent) as that will aid your speedy progress through the content. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t be discouraged if you did not take GCSE Geography – determination and hard work will get you on course to achieving great results in your A-Levels.
What will I study?
As you by now know, geography subjects are split into two branches: physical geography (which concerns itself with nature and natural events) and human geography (which largely concerns itself with manmade phenomena). The content you cover during your Geography course will entirely depend on whether you are taking AS or A-Level Geography. If you are taking AS Level Geography then within physical geography you will cover landscape systems, and within human geography you will cover changing spaces, making places. On top of that you will get to choose one out of five optional topics from both branches: climate change, disease dilemmas, exploring oceans, future of food, and hazardous earth.
If you are taking A-Level, then your portfolio of topics covered will be much broader. On top of landscape systems and changing spaces; making places, you are also required to learn about earth’s life support systems and global connections. Meanwhile, you get to elect not one but two topics from the same list of options as above. Another difference from the AS Level is that on top of acquiring geographical skills, you will also carry out an independent investigation in the form of 4-day fieldwork.
What is the examination process like?
The examination process you go through will also largely depend on whether you are taking AS Level OCR Geography or A-Level OCR Geography. If you opted to take only AS Level Geography, then you will sit two written assessments at the end of the academic year. The first assessment (Landscape and Place) will take 1 hour and 45 minutes and count for 55% of your final grade. It will have a fieldwork component. The second assessment (Geographical Debates) will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and count for 45% of your final grade. It will have a much smaller component addressing geography papers than the first assessment.
However, if you elected to take A-Level OCR Geography then your assessment will be split into four parts. Your first two papers (Physical Systems and then Human Interactions) will each last 1 hour and 30 minutes and count for 22% of your final grade. Your third written paper will test your geographical skills and test both your physical and human geography knowledge. It will last 2 hours and 30 minutes and count for 36% of your final grade. Finally, the fourth component of your assessment will be the independent investigation (i.e. coursework) which will require you write a 3-4,000-word report which will count for 20% of your final grade.
From the very beginning of revision season, you should be revising about three to four hours for your A-Level Geography exams. That way you will have enough time to get through the content in-depth, but you won’t overwork yourself which could easily lead to burnout. It’s not enough to just not overwork yourself to avoid burnouts – you also shouldn’t stay locked away inside all day. It’s important to stay healthy and exercise. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and get out for exercise in the fresh air. That way you’ll stay fresh and motivated throughout the exam period.
It’s also crucial not to merely skip through your content by reading it passively. As OCR is such a practical exam board, it’s good to start tackling those context-based practice questions early on. You should also start using past exam papers to practice sitting assessments under timed conditions. This way not only will you know what type of exam questions to expect, but you can also gain a lot of confidence from knowing that you can ace your exam within the time constraints. At A-Level Geography we are rooting for you! In order to help you achieve fantastic A-Level results, we have lots of engaging material like mind maps, quizzes, and past papers waiting for you. Let’s begin!