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.


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