If you haven’t seen my last post, then I would urge you to go over and have a look, but in the meantime I will give you a brief overview of the series. Over the next week or so I’m doing an individual post on each of my A levels… including why I chose them, what I like and most importantly how I revise for specific subjects. Today’s post is all things geography A level, which from what I found is quite a popular A level and probably the most popular out of all of the subjects that I do.
I chose it because it was one of my favourites, and one of my best, subjects at GCSE. I loved it and did really well, so it was almost a no brainer to choose to continue it onto A level. I love how modern it is and how it links well to real life and current affairs. As you have probably gathered, I am very much a social science girl and so geography is a perfect fit alongside my other subjects. Just before we get started on the subject specific things, my exam board is EDexcel and so I take 3 exams at the end of the two years. Thought to make that clear because exam structure and boards change so often, I didn’t want anyone reading this in the future and the advice not being relevant!
So back to geography A level. As I presume all A level courses are, the teaching is split up into two very distinct parts… human and physical. I think people automatically assume that geography is all the physical work, but actually it is split half and half. For anyone that is unsure of what human geography is, its all linking to development and regeneration, human rights and the rise of globalisation. I find these sections so much more interesting (mainly because they link so heavily to my other subjects and fits everything into place) and so I definitely excel in human over physical. I think everyone is naturally stronger in one though as they are both so different! This is not a reflection of the specific course, as ultimately it can’t be helped, but I wish the A level was split into the two A levels that you could choose to specialise in… that would make my life so much easier!
Another part of geography A level that I didn’t expect would be the skills questions that appear on the papers, usually calculations or interpreting something. You don’t need any crazy maths ability to be able to do them, but a basic understanding is needed for some of them (such as spearmans rank). When we first starting doing them it made me so confused but practice makes perfect… although I’m still no means great at them! Its definitely something that most people will overlook when revising os make sure to pick up on them and study them when you get chance. They are only short answer questions but all of the marks add up and its important to remember them!
Coursework. I’m just going to leave that there. Some call it a blessing and some call it a curse, and after spending the best part of 6 months constantly redrafting and changing my coursework I’m currently leaning towards the latter. It was seriously the bane of my life for so long and now its handed in and marked I am so happy that I never have to see it and its 16,000 words again. I honestly can’t sit here and say that its easy because I got a good grade, because it really wasn’t. Actually it was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked on a single piece of work. That being said, it has made me feel more confident going into the exam knowing that 20% of my final grade is at what I want it to be, so although it hasn’t taken any pressure away it has made me feel more comfortable in my ability. Although I will be honest, my revision has suffered for geography due to all of the coursework… so thats stressing me out more than it should be!
If you have read any of these posts you will know that I am very much a visual learner, so my revision techniques are mainly based around that. For each topic (there are 8 in geography) I have made notes and mindmaps in order to condense all of the information down into what I absolutely need to know. One thing about geography is that there is just so much that you need to know, so condensing the information down to a few pages makes it so much more manageable to revise. Case studies are also a huge part of geography A level, and for these I use flashcards. Then I will get someone to test me on an individual case study, usually my gran when I see her on the weekend, as she always likes helping me and asking me questions to feel like she is helping me! I find that with case study knowledge like geography, you need to be tested in order to make sure that you know it due to the amount of figures and little facts.
Overall I did enjoy geography a level, its very content heavy and can get stressful if you don’t keep on top of everything but I am so glad that I did take it. I think this course is perfect for someone who wants a broad knowledge in many areas whilst still learning about the world and how it operates. Again, like all my subjects, this subject would be most tailored to a subjective essay writer in my opinion as opposed to someone who prefers maths and science.