Category: CCEA GCSE

GIS Migration Exercise

At GCSE we currently follow the CCEA Syllabus. This requires students, like most geography GCSE syllabuses to have some experience of GIS.

I have put together an activity for pupils using migration data and ESRI’s Arc Explorer Online. This is free and web based. The only requirement is that your computer needs to have the microsoft silverlight plug in installed.

This is the groups first real experience of using GIS, although they have used Google Earth before. The main aim is to get the pupils to have a basic understanding of what a GIS is, and to think about different ways of presenting geographical information.

Introductory PowerPoint – What is GIS?

After the basic information on GIS pupils work through a series of activities. The first looking at Geographical Information presented in a spreadsheet and graph, then looking at a GIS.

The activity can be found on ArcGIS Explorer here .

Worksheets / Instructions for Pupils:

This exercise is very much a work in progress; what is above is my initial thoughts.

Some of the slides for the powerpoint have been adapted from Alan Parkinson’s Teach Share on Free GIS; more information here; other materials have been adapted from the EUROGEO iGUESS course I attended in May,

CCEA GCSE Geography Examination Tips

On Monday 4th April I attended a GCSE Geography support event for the CCEA Geography specification at William Parker School Daventry. This is the second of three posts on my notes from the event.

Range of Questions

  • A wide variety of different questions are used to enable learners to show their learning.
  • To support this a wide variety of resource material is used (tables, graphs, photographs, maps, and diagrams).

Different types of questions include:

  • Complete the diagram/ figure or paragraph – in the foundation tier a list of answers is often included.
  • Select the correct answers from the options given.
  • Putting statements in order – e.g. steps in a process, formation of a spit or waterfall.
  • Matching – terms and definitions; grid references and locations. For example matching types of aid and definitions.
  • Sorting and classifying – for example economical and definitions.
  • Definitions – state the meanings of geographical terms; all key words come from list of key geographical terms in specification.
  • Skills – students may be asked to plot or complete a graph (if a bar graph is given complete the chart including the shading).

Commonly used command Words

  • Complete
  • State
  • Describe
  • Explain
  • State fully
  • Suggest
  • Evaluate
  • Contrast
  • Describe and explain
  • State the meaning
  • Name



  • Extracting information from a table or graph.
  • Completing a graph or table.
  • Interpreting weather maps.
  • OS Map work skills (distance, direction, area, map interpretation)

Tips to Candidates

  • Take care that m = 1,000,000
  • There will be an OS Map every year; either in the physical exam or human exam; there will be some generic skills and some specifically related to human or physical topics.
  • Note use of emboldening in the examination; key terms and numbers (one reason, two causes).
  • Ensure that if the question asks for one reason, give detail of one reason, not a list of many.
  • The number of lines is relative to the number of marks, typically two lines per mark.
  • If the question uses sustainability, sustainability should be used in the answer; should mention economic and environment in the answer.
  • When answering questions underline or highlight command words in the question.
  • When asked to describe the changes/pattern from a resource candidates should quote figures in their answer; otherwise they won’t get full marks.
  • Case study answers should include a minimum of two facts/figures.
  • On the foundation tier across the paper ¾ marks come from naming the location of case studies.
  • Case studies need to be at the correct scale.
  • Some questions require reference to place but not necessary a full case study.

Key Points from the Chief Examiners Report

  • Candidates should respond directly to the question set, don’t put in a great deal of background detail.
  • Use geographical phrases and terminology.
  • Quote information from given resources when asked to describe a pattern or trend.
  • Specific facts from case studies are needed to access level 3 marks.


General CCEA GCSE Geography Information

On Monday 4th April I attended a GCSE Geography support event for the CCEA Geography specification at William Parker School Daventry. This is the first of three posts on my notes from the event.

General Information

  • The speficication has six geogrpahical themes which are set out as content and learning outcomes; there is a list of key geographical terms in each section, these freequently turn up as ‘state the meaning questions’; typically 6 out of 100 marks on the exam will be on knowledge of key terms. In the foundation tier some of the questions will be match the word and the definition.
  • The controlled assessment titles will be set by the exam board and released  in June two years before submission.


  • The complete GCSE is split into three units (Unit 1 – Physical Geography, Unit 2 – Human Geography, and Unit 3 – Controlled Assessment); Unit 1 and Unit 2 are examined.
  • Students must sit all units before the qualification is ‘cashed-in’, students must be entered for the cash-in separately.
  • The qualification is offered at two tiers; Higher (grades A-D), and Foundation (grades C-G).
  • Students can re-sit at a different tier to the initial exam (however only one re-sit is allowed per unit).
  • 40% of the assessment must be taken in the final examination series in which the qualification is certified. The problem comes when a student wants to re-sit after having achieved a grade; they would have to re-sit two units to meet the terminal rule.
  • The final grade will include the assessment results, which satisfy the terminal requirement; even if it is not the candidate’s best grade.
  • The above requirements are important as they are different to the effect of unitisation at A ‘Level.
  • Uniform Mark Scales (UMS) are used to aggregate marks from individual assessment units. Raw to UMS conversion is different each examination based to keep the standard the same.
  • The number of uniform marks for each unit depends on its weighting; Units 1 and 2; 150 uniform marks, Unit 3; 100 uniform marks. The total GCSE is worth 400 uniform marks.
  • In foundation tier the top mark is 104, equivalent to a top Grade C.

Uniform Mark Boundaries

  • The Uniform Mark boundaries will stay the same for each examination session.










  • There is a variety of information on the CCEA website to support the teaching of the specification.
  • The support includes: specimen assessment materials, scheme of work, controlled assessment guidance, past examination papers.
  • It was also mentioned that some of the materials on the website to support the legacy specification may be of use, particularly past examination papers.