Friday, 16 January 2015

Which Case Study? Rivers and Population Resource

So, a common error in the exam, particularly with essay questions, seems to be accidentally using the wrong case study and ending up not really answering the question properly. Understandable, since the pressure of being in an exam could make you panic and write about the first case study you can remember.

You don't want to end up like I did in my first year at university and go into the exam hoping the question on 'sea ice' would come up. After frantically scanning the question options for the words 'sea' and 'ice' and not seeing them anywhere, I resigned myself to answering a question on climate change using nothing but what I could remember from 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I still passed, but only just, which did not do justice to my weeks of hard work and revision.

The point is, upon leaving the exam I bumped into a friend who expressed her great relief that the sea ice question had come up. 'What?!' I exclaimed with a look of horror, 'are you talking about?!'.

Turns out the words 'sea' and 'ice' hadn't come up, instead being replaced with something along the lines of 'when the sea freezes...' ... D'oh! In my panic I obviously hadn't read the questions properly.

Since then I have employed a strategy of 

1) Taking a few seconds or even minute to make sure I am in a calm state before opening the paper (doing my best to ignore everyone around me tearing open the first page and frantically scribbling down answers before the first 30 seconds has even passed)

2) Underlining/highlighting the key words in every question. For the ones that are a little tricky or long I try diving them into parts, or rephrasing the question in my own words.

I feel I have gone off on somewhat of a tangent here but the point to this post is that is is ALSO a great idea to look at lots and lots of past exam questions, have a go at planning them and make sure you know which case studies go with which questions, as it is very easy to get confused, for example between a communicable and a non-communicable disease, or a population policy and a country with a youthful population. So here is a little booklet I have made to help my AS students (it;s A4 but I printed it as as A5 booklet to save paper, and make it look a little less intimidating! It's on Rivers and Population. You could edit it and put in the case studies you've done. Hope it helps!

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