Would you look at that, you’re already nearing the end of your GCSEs! Before you know it, exam season will have come and gone, and you’ll have your GCSE certificates in hand ready to move onto the next challenge. As the long-awaited exam season dawns on you, you may be starting to get anxious about all of that content you’re going to have to learn for your assessments. But don’t worry, help is here! Don’t forget that you will have been introduced to all your exam topics already so you’re not starting anything from scratch. What you have to do now is write a solid revision plan and stick to it until exam day. Here’s all you need to know about that and how we can help.
As you may have noticed, subjects don’t really change much with different examination boards. After all, a hurricane is still a hurricane, no matter who teaches it to you! However, there are small differences between exam boards in terms of how your knowledge is being assessed. Being aware of this will go a long way in helping you prepare for your exams. What you need to know about OCR exams is that they are notorious for being more context- and practical-based. In other words, your knowledge will be tested more on contextual (storyline) questions than very direct ones. The best way to learn how to tackle these questions is to start reading through past papers early on. That way nothing can surprise you!
About the Board
The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) board was first created in 1998 after several mergers, abolitions, and handovers which happened earlier in the 1990s. Today it is one of the largest exam boards in the country and it continues to be run by the University of Cambridge. Like most subjects, OCR GCSE Geography is ‘linear’. This means you’ll be assessed on your knowledge at the very end of the GCSE course as opposed to throughout it (which happens with ‘modular’ subjects).
How long will the course take to complete?
The OCR GCSE Geography course, whether you took the A or B version, is most likely going to take two academic years to complete. Most educational institutions teach the subject over two years, but some have opted to complete the course in just a year. Others have also started early and taken three years to finish.
Is any prior knowledge required?
OCR does not require any prior qualification or knowledge from you. But they do specify that learners in England who are beginning this course are likely to have learned some basics about geography throughout their Key Stage 3 classes. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the GCSE course does assume some basic knowledge about geography.
What will I study?
What you study will largely depend on whether you are taking OCR GCSE Geography A or OCR GCSE Geography B. This might sound very confusing, but it isn’t. The ‘A’ version of the OCR GCSE Geography course approaches the subject thematically: first teaching you about UK-specific geography and then about global geographical topics. Meanwhile, the ‘B’ version of the course approaches the subject of geography in a more traditional way, splitting it into the two strands: human and physical.
If you are taking GCSE Geography A, you will first cover landscapes of the UK; people of the UK; and, UK environmental challenges. Next, you will cover ecosystems of the planet; people of the planet; and, environmental threats to our planet. Meanwhile, if you are taking GCSE Geography B, then you will first cover global hazards; changing climate; distinctive landscapes; and, sustaining ecosystems, all as physical geography topics. Then you will cover human geography topics including urban futures; dynamic development; the UK in the 21st century; and, resource reliance.
What is the examination process like?
The examination process is also slightly different depending on which version of OCR GCSE Geography you are taking. If you are taking Geography A, then your first two exams (Living in the UK Today and The World Around Us) will last 1 hour each and count for 30% of your final grade each. The final paper (Geographical Skills), which includes a fieldwork assessment, will last 1 hour and 30 minutes and count for 40% of your final grade.
However, if you are taking Geography B then the exams are weighted and spread out a bit differently. The first two papers (Our Natural World and People and Society) will each last 1 hour and 15 minutes and each count for 35% of your final GCSE. Each of those will have a fieldwork component. Meanwhile, the third and final paper (Geographical Exploration) will be a decision-making exercise in the form of a 1 hour and 30 minutes long written assessment. It will count for the remaining 30% of your overall grade.
You are highly advised to revise a few hours a day for your GCSE Geography exams from the outset. Starting strong and following your revision plan will mean that there are no unfortunate surprises waiting for you at the last minute. Ideally, you should be revising this subject for two to three hours each day. That will give you sufficient time to delve into deep learning and it will also keep you away from the burnout trap (working for too many hours and losing focus).
Another way to stay away from burnout and low-efficiency revision is to avoid passive studying (i.e. just reading). Instead, write some revision cards, take some quizzes and draw some mind maps. This will help you remember your definitions and memorise your ecosystems for the exams. Finally, when you start feeling confident about the content, start doing timed practice papers. That way you’ll learn about what to expect on exam day and you’ll get a hang of how to manage your time in an exam. All of us at GCSE Geography are here to support you in getting the very best grades! To do so we have a lot of revision material waiting for you on our website. So don’t wait around, let’s get started!