Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. Photo copyright @ Humanities Hub
Geography has always been a dynamic subject, and the beauty about the study of Geography, while in simplistic terms aims to investigate why differences between spatial locations exist, also attempts to marry concepts from the Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Biology), Earth Sciences such as as Geomorphology, as well as the Social Sciences like History, Politics and Sociology. As such, Geography can be said to be a daunting, and yet exciting subject.
That being said, the new syllabus for A-level Geography is now more geared towards the application of concepts put forth by the various topics. To tackle the new syllabus, one should always keep in mind these few tips especially regarding the Data Response section which consists of one full paper:
1) Many questions start off asking students to describe a particular aspect of data which may take the form of maps, tables or charts. Always describe what you see with a purpose in mind AND based on what you have learnt in lectures and tutorials. Do you see a general trend, pattern or phenomena? Is there an anomaly to the patterns you see which you are able to explain? Many students jump into such questions and basically describe what they see without any purpose.
2) Always provide evidence from the given set/s of data to prove your point. Examiners allocate marks for citing the correct evidence as it shows that students are able to extract relevant information to support their views. I have come across many scripts where students have not achieved the full marks for a particular question only because sufficient evidence was not provided. The evidence may come simply from quoting specific data directly from the given sources, or it may involve some calculations or inferences based on the given information.
3) Expect to see sources which you may never have been exposed to, or seen before. Never be put off by such information. A student with a good understanding of the sub-topic in question (based on good content knowledge and understanding of concepts), will be able to see that in most cases, the sources will reveal information based on what has been taught in lectures and tutorials. With practice, the student should be able to draw these parallels between what has been learnt, and what is shown in the question. Application is therefore a key skill which the Geography student needs to eventually be adept in.
4) As many Data-Response questions require some description of sources, followed by an explanation of what has been described, be sure to be selective in what you describe and offer descriptions which can be explained logically based on content you have been taught in the syllabus. Students who describe data blindly often paint themselves into a corner when they cannot offer an explanation for a random, insignificant observation which may not be the focus of examiners when they produced the sources.
At the Humanities Hub, it is our desire that we can guide you to pick up these skills (and more) to effectively ace the final exam which you will be taking.
The above article is contributed by our Geography super tutor, Mr Kelvin Tan. Mr Tan has been teaching A-Level Geography in junior colleges like ACJC and HCI for over 16 years. If you wish to join his classes in 2017, call us to register at 6264 2236 or 9661 9760.