By Matt Burdett, 2 March 2020
This article is about how to plan your revision for Geography in three months.
Revision: the task that you think will be easy, so you put it off forever.
And that’s the problem with revision. When you finally decide to start, you’ve got almost no time left and you have to dive straight into writing notes. And that means no structure. No structure means no time planning. No time planning means – too late! It’s exam day. Time’s up for revising. My solutions to that were also covered in my post ‘6-point plan to stress-free revision’, but here I’m going to go into a bit more detail about the ways you could revise Geography specifically, rather than general subjects.
One of the key things about Geography is that we require ‘synthesis’. That’s a big word for ‘making links between random bits of the syllabus’. If you have three months to revise, you should be trying to build synthesis into your revision. These strategies are all about helping you to do this.
These are my three top strategies to revise for Geography if you have three months to go until the exam. Good luck!
Geography idea 1: make a world map
Geography is about places. That means you have a really easy way to present information visually: on a world map!
Get a big world map – the biggest you can find – and stick it on the wall. As you revise specific case studies, add the details to the world map. You could do this with sticky notes, or you could use location pins and string to label the map around the edge.
The good thing about this is that you will start to see where you can have ‘cross over’ between information. For example, if you’ve studied leisure and sport in China, and also the layout of urban environments in China, you might find that some of that information links together.
Geography idea 2: write out the syllabus
This idea isn’t just for Geography – it can also work for other subjects where you need to make links.
What you do is write out the big topics of each of your syllabus points around the edge of the biggest piece of paper you can find. For example, you might write out just the key headings of each unit.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have completed an important piece of revision, which is to know what the syllabus requires!
The next step is to draw links between the syllabus points. Literally, get a pen and draw a line between two points. Then write on the line what the link is. The result: you’ve thought much more deeply about the issues, and can use one or the other as a counter-argument in an essay.
For example, if you are studying climate change responses in Kenya, you could link it to the importance of international tourism in Kenya. In this example, we might identify that Kenya is trying to adapt to climate change, but at the same time is encouraging more international flights as part of its tourism strategy. This leads to a complex point about whether there is any point adapting to climate change if there is no attempt to mitigate it.
Geography idea 3: big questions
If you have three months to revise Geography, you probably have time to do past papers and have them marked by your teacher. Great!
The problem with past papers is that they tend to focus on a few narrow areas that come up again and again. That means you’re not prepared for that one totally random question that comes up every couple of years.
My solution to this? Ask questions about the issues you’re facing, and discuss them with others – or, if you are the only person who is organised enough to do this, you can write down both sides of a debate and argue with yourself.
Here are some examples of the kind of questions I’m talking about:
- Which is more important: population growth or climate change? Why?
- Which is more severe: flooding or earthquakes? Why?
- Which is more urgent: to save the oceans, or help slum dwellers? Why?
- Are the SDGs a total waste of time? Why?
- If you were 100 years old, would your perspective on the circular economy change? How, and why?
- If you lived by the sea, what geographical syllabus point would be the one worth studying for you? Why?
- When you reach 50 years old, what do you think global development indicators will say about the state of the planet? Why?
- If you were born 50 years ago, how would your answer to the previous question have looked when you were 18 years old? How, and why? (Yep – it’s a complex question, but you can work it out!)
You get the point. These are all totally open questions, and ones that have no specific answer. They make you think, and probably disagree with someone. That’s a great way to practice making arguments with the same kind of fluency that you’ll need in an exam.
Do you have any other great ideas for revision over a three month period? Leave a comment below!