Model Responses and Grading
This page provides example questions for Paper 1, it features exam tips and skills advice and model student responses. It also demonstrates how teachers grade work using the Assessment Objectives so the students can replicate the style and structure of the responses. It includes explanation of the command words, with example responses featuring teacher comment pop-overs, that reference the Assessment Objectives (AOs). These model response refer to all command words and question types, including 10 mark essays. It also includes an important essay guide t be given to all students.
Subject and Command Word Specific!
This is the most important exam tip for students writing responses and instruction for teachers grading responses. The student must always cover the subject in the question and address the command.
Most students struggle to address the command word
Definition questions will be valued at 1 or 2 marks. An full accurate definition is required to attain the marks. Sometimes an example will add value to the response.
Question: the term desertification (2)
Model Response: Desertification refers to the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems, whereby arid soils lose their soil moisture and fertility and slowly turn into desert, with an absense of flora and fauna
Maintain detailed glossaries of key terms and read through them regularly. Use specialised terminology with accuracy and consistency in all written work.
State is the simplest type of question and must not be over thought. It simply requires you to identify some knowledge
Question: two characteristics of nivation in periglacial environments. (2)
Response: Nivation is the erosion of ground to the side and underneath snow patch. One characteristics is the presence of meltwater, which cause freeze thaw weathering. A second characteristic is the movement of eroded material downslope via meltwater streams and solifluction
This question will normally feature in reference to a resource such as a map, graph or infographic. Again it requires the skill to read a graphic and pick out a correct answer.
Question: With reference to the map and photograph (not shown) the location from where the photograph was taken (1)
Response: China and India
Don't rush these questions. Every year some of the best students drop marks by not taking sufficient time to read a graphic properly.
This question requires you to develop causal explanation. There is a likely to be a number of different answers rather than one or two definites.The response should be fully developed and clearly linked to the question. Knowledge and understanding (AO1) is most important but a degree of analysis may also be required (AO2)
Question: why wetlands environments are under threat (2 +2)
Response: One reason wetland environments are under threat is due to increasing extraction of water for intensive agriculture and industry. With development comes the need for water resources, and this growth in demand reduces the wetland water supply
A second reason is continued urban development and urban sprawl. With urban populations growing rapidly in many emerging economies, space for urban infrastructure leads to the diversion of supplies and the drainage and reclamation of wetland environments
Don't underestimate the two mark question! Your response should be fully developed and demonstrate sound knowledge. There should be clear links to key words in the question. In the example above there are clear links to both global and increasing water consumption.
This command word can feature in shorter 2 questions as well as 10 mark essay questions. It requires you to develop cause and effect as appropriate to the question.
a) and two possible causes of malnutrition (2)
b) two disadvantages and one advantage of health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) as an indicator of health (2 + 2 +2)
c) population pressure can lead to desertification (6)
a) Malnutrition refers to a lack of proper nutrition and is caused by either not eating the correct foods with the correct balance of nutrition or it is caused by the body not being able to absorb those nutrients from the food. Both child stunting and child obesity are examples of malnutrition
b) One disadvantage of HALE is the difficulty and cost in collecting the amount of data required to calculate HALE. It is often too expensive in developing countries to collect. A second disadvantage concerns the lack of available data on illnesses and causes of death in many developing countries. A disadvantage is the ability to make clear comparisons in quality of health and life expectancy between genders and this relates to a life time rather than an age specific period.
A second positive feedback loop occurs when the permafrost containing the potent greenhouse gas, methane thaws. As the permafrost thaws increasing amounts of methane is released into the atmosphere. this methane increases the greenhouse effect, which leads to further warming and further thawing of the permafrost.
c) Population pressure, which refers to when the population size of an area begins to exceed the carrying capacity of its environment is an important causal factor of desertification, which occurs when arid environments, which are vulnerable to desertification, degrades and turns to desert. This is occurring in many arid environments but especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Population pressure can cause desertification through different ways. The first is overcultivation. Due to land inheritance laws and large family sizes, families are forced to farm smaller and smaller land areas or are forced to farm more marginal and infertile land. Overcultivation, generally through monoculture farms, starves soil of the nutrients it needs to recover and due to the small farm size, there is no time for fallow periods when soil can recover. Pastoral farmers also cause desertification through over grazing, when too many animals exceed the carrying capacity. Herds eat the grass as well as the roots, exposing soil to the sun and to rains. Without the roots, soils are easily washed away and the nutrients leached. Another cause is deforestation is deforestation. With few viable fuels, the rural population is forced to use wood. Trees bind the soils and offer protection from the sun and rains, without them the soils degrades and desertification can take hold.
In more developed regions, farmers appear to be causing desertification through over industrialised farming methods, excessive water use can cause salinisation, like in Australia and ground water stores are drying up, all over India. Heavy machinery compacts soil and makes it unfarmable. Over ploughing can also expose soils to the wind and lead to loss and later desertification.
Don't underestimate the short explain question! Your response should be fully developed ,including an accurate definition of terminology and clear reference back to the question
For 10 mark essay questions, if explain is the only command word it should be the defining focus of every sentence
This command word is used to question your skills of graph, map and infographic analysis, as well your knowledge of the characteristics of human and physical environments
a) the pattern of hunger shown in the graph below (4)
b) Using Figure 1 the evidence that the process of weathering is at work (4)
Figure 1 Glacier
c) Using the map below two characteristics of the river valley (4)
Source: Tennessee River Gorge Topographical Map by Don Deakins
a) The graph shows the 10 most hungry nations in 2014, all of which have close to or higher than 30% of their population undernourished. Berundi has the highest level of hunger with close to 70% of its population undernourished and around 25% of children under 5 underweight. This is closely followed by Eritrea. Timor -Leste has the highest % of children under 5 under weight, at close 50%, but oddly has one of the lowest child mortality rates. Chad has the highest child mortality rate at 15% and also has 30 of its children under 5, under weight and 30% of its population undernourished. The best country featured is Haiti, but this still has 50% of its population undernourished and around 10 % of children underweight.
b)The photograph shows a small valley glacier that is extending from a larger glacier in the upland region. The evidence of weathering is clear in a number of places. Firstly, in the foreground to the left of the glacier is a lot of loose, angular rock. This may be deposited there from the glacier but it is also likely to have fallen there as a result of freeze-thaw action within cracks in the bedrock. A second example is the rock visible in the crevasses in the upper section of the glacier. This could be wind blown but much of this would have fallen from the bedrock as weathered material. Furthermore the bedrock is covered in cracks and joints. This will enable frost shattering to take place and indeed may have been made larger by freeze-thaw action.
c) The river valley is in the shape of a steep gorge following the shape of the river as it meanders. The valley sides are very steep, risng approximately 900 above the river on both sides, within less than 1km from the river bank. On the north west bank of the river the valley has a relatively flat section of about 100-200 meters in width and this features, what looks like a small road. The meandering chanel within the valley is approximately 300 meters in width.
Do not explain when the command word asks you to describe!
Drawing Graphs, Diagrams and Maps with the Correct Conventions
Some questions may require you to specifically sketch a graph, diagram or map. Other questions may be improved with the use of graph, diagram or map to support the argument
AO4 specifies that students follow the correct conventions when drawing graphs, diagram and maps. these are as follows
- Graphs - should include a title, axis titles, annotation and an appropriate graph for the data and should be accurate
- Diagrams - should include a frame, title, clear labels and annotation
- Maps - should include a frame, a title, a north arrow, a scale (or statement not drawn to scale) and a key if appropriate
1. How to draw graphs
The following sketch graph shows how to draw graphs with the correct conventions
2. How to draw diagrams
The following sketch graph shows how to draw graphs with the correct conventions
1. How to draw maps
The following sketch map shows how to draw graphs with the correct conventions
Annotation is needed to access top AO4 marks. Annotation should be used to support the argument and link back to the question. Always make a clear reference to your graphic in your text. e.g. see figure 1
Evaluate and Examine, Distinguish and Discuss
Evaluate and distinguish feature as a command words in 6 mark (3 + 3) questions and require a shorter concise response. Evaluate, examine and discuss are the dominant command words used in essay questions. They clearly require a thorough AO3 approach. Students often need to analyse a number of different perspectives, evaluate their importance or comment on advantages and disadvantages. Within the discussion students are gauging the importance of factors in comparison to each other and students should develop an argument based on appropriate evidence.
the importance of glacial (ice) erosion and deposition for the development of glacial troughs and moraines (10)
Discuss the Statement
This essay structure features frequently, especially in Paper 2. The response requires a critical but balanced argument that covers the perspective of the statement as well as other perspectives. You may wish to agree or disagree with the statement but you must show awareness of different perspectives. Academic flare is encouraged through developing a strong argument with good supporting evidence.
Use the following essay guide for all 10 mark questions in Paper 1 and Paper 2