Unit 4 Tips from Exam Board

Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Unit 4: Overall comments
Most answers now in report style, pure essays lose marks in QWC.
Recent material / examples / news seen often, can be useful for some
questions e.g. food, health
Most have plan to work from – important to set aside thinking / planning
Methodology required for 11 + marks section R of mark scheme (most now
have this)
Diagrams common and usually used well
Models / theory common but needs more than name dropping / drawing
Majority include ongoing evaluation
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
The generic mark scheme and its importance
• Very different from the mark schemes used in Units 1, 2 and 3.
• In these Units the totality of their work is considered and then a Level is
decided on – here specific sections of their Report are marked using
• Can’t give an overall ‘impression’ mark
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Thinking about the question, spotting
Question interpretation very important, but
can be a problem:
• The pre-release can make students prejudge the focus of the question.
• Mock exams, homework questions etc
can reinforce this if not carefully handled
i.e. lots of possible questions are
• Students will tend to focus on one part /
clause of the actual question at the
expense of others.
Good students?
Danger of over-preparation.
Can’t see the wood for the
Reluctant to jettison lovingly
researched case studies ‘just’
because they don’t fit the
Most likely to take advice, so if
the teachers ‘guess’ is
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
What to expect from the question?
• Most questions are complex i.e. have more than one side /
• ....many are controversial, but some are not and the degree of
controversy varies.
• Most questions demand discussion of more than one view.
....the reference to ‘players’ is a clear hint to discuss the views of
different players.
• Many questions have no ‘answer’, but rather a spectrum
Key strategy
Somewhere between key
and not key!
Not a key strategy
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
• A good way to understand some questions is to simplify them, to show that
the original question is actually more complex than some students think:
A simpler version is:
• “Explain why some cultures and cultural landscapes are vulnerable and
• If a candidate answered this question, they would only be answering part of
the original question. Many do this of course
A simpler version:
• “Tectonic activity poses a challenge to the communities experiencing it.
• The answer to this question is really ‘yes, it does’, whereas the answer to
the actual question is much more of a spectrum from ‘no challenge’ to ‘very
serious challenge’.
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Common Issues: Pre-release dangers
Over –analysing it; getting ‘hung up’ on the meaning of one word.
Focusing on one aspect at the expense of others.
Negative interpretations e.g. impacts, challenges, effects, consequences.
Pre-judging the question
Different groups i.e. contrasts +
‘cope’ is crucial i.e. not ‘impacts’
Effectiveness of responses – steer
towards evaluation.
Explore the factors which influence the effectiveness of responses used by different groups of
people to cope with tectonic hazards.
Research volcanic and seismic hazards to examine the range of responses applied in contrasting
Volcanic and seismic: important to avoid
a narrow answer
Range and contrasting also
Actual question: “Evaluate the importance of different factors which influence how successfully
people and organisations cope with tectonic hazards.”
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Developing criteria and making judgments
Reports based on case studies / case studies as sub-headings – tends to be a very
descriptive ‘product’
Candidates need to develop more conceptual Report sub-sections.
On way to develop this is to develop some criteria during the pre-release phase
Can be applied to the question in the exam:
Costs and benefits?
• Economic costs & benefits
• Social costs & benefits
• Environmental costs & benefits
Examples and case studies can then be applied to these costs and benefits, beginning
the process of selection of the relevant material.
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Planning frames
• Option during teaching is to
give students a planning
frame to help them develop
a clear idea of what their
report should ‘look like’.
• An example is given here
• Probably works best when
given to students on A3
• They can scribble on it and
flesh out a structure for
their whole Report.
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
...the other approach..
• The alternative approach is to organise by case study e.g.
GM crops in Argentina
The GR in India
Irrigation in Egypt
Magic Stones in Mali
• This approach tends to be much more descriptive,
• More hit and miss in terms of costs and benefits
• Danger of repeating very similar costs 3 or 4 times.
In the exam the costs and benefits from the pre-release become the
controversy i.e. degree of soc/ eco / env controversy.
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
This more conceptual approach might lead to conclusions such as:
• Most attempts to increase food production are environmentally
controversial e.g. GM, GR, Large scale irrigation – exception might
be small-scale, local, intermediate schemes.
• Socially, many attempts increase production but not food security
for local people i.e. focus on cash crops, exports and non-food
• Small scale schemes more socially beneficial in terms of food
security, but have a small footprint in relation to the scale of the
• Economically, many attempts have high initial costs which exclude
many, or have elements of dependency i.e. on TNCs, Governments
or NGOs.
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
There are 3 important elements in an introduction:
Focus (direction, argument, criteria used to make judgements)
Definitions (from the title)
Framework (structure, parameters, scope)
Many answers had incomplete coverage of these aspects
Better candidates referenced definitions, often giving quotes and incorporated
these into a clear focus using key words.
Often the use of a model / theory provides a framework – as long as it is referred
to again in the analysis / conclusion.
Justifying particular examples / case studies usually helps the Report flow more
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Introduction often leads on naturally to a Methodology.
It should be specific to the pre-release/title set.
Many styles possible – paragraph or table most common
Issues with the following if used in an entirely uncritical way:
Blogs etc
Issues with:
‘the one with the parrot’ or ‘ book with green cover
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Analysis and Application
Select & Apply
Descriptive ‘everything I know’
Case studies / examples illustrate different
‘Different’ case studies are actually very similar.
Factually accurate
Clear explanations; complex ideas
Simplistic, lacks understanding
Clear, logical argument
No argument, just ‘stuff’
Balanced view
Unbalanced; stereotypical
Linked; one example / idea leads to another
Separate accounts, usually ‘the next case study
Ongoing evaluation provides cement to link
No ongoing evaluation
Diagrams chosen carefully & used
Pictures make it look pretty
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Good test of a good conclusion is whether you can identify the title question from it
What is needed?
Recall / summary of main content – what does is show / prove?
Group of examples/ CS rather than list them.
3 or 4 general concluding statements need to be teased out, linked back to the
Report title
Identify possible anomalies
Refer back to the models / theory - essential
Identify complexity in the question / more than one viewpoint i.e. there is no single
‘answer’ .
Last few lines need to answer the Report title directly, using words from it
Edexcel Geography GCE Unit 4
Diagram use:
• Useful – especially if
adapted like this Park
model; it is also linked in
with the text but note the
key is not fully clear.
• Sometimes they add very
little and are rather
pointless e.g. basic location

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