How to revise Geography in … 1 week

By Matt Burdett, 10 March 2020

This article is about how to plan your revision for Geography in one week.

Even with just a week, you can still make revision highly effective if you follow a condensed version of my ‘6-point plan to stress-free revision’.

If you don’t have time for that – maybe because you’re still in school, or have to work a part-time job – I recommend two simple strategies that you can use if you have one week remaining before the exam (and one bonus secret strategy too!). If you have more time, you might be better following my advice on how to revise if you have three months to go, or how to revise if you have one month remaining.

Strategy 1: Definitions

With just a week to go, you have to focus on the essentials. How can you put a two year course into just a week? Start with definitions.

Get out your syllabus and write down any words that appear in the syllabus that might need a definition. Even simple words like ‘life expectancy’ should be written down.

Then, define each word. Refer to your textbook or the exam board’s glossary (not online searching) to find the meanings. Write them down using flashcards to make them easy to refer back to. Keep your flashcards with you at all times, and go through them about three times a day.

Why do I focus on definitions? Because if you know the definition, you can often make a link to more general ideas. For example, you will discover that ‘life expectancy’ is actually at least two definitions – ‘life expectancy at birth’ and ‘age specific life expectancy’. Learning the difference will provoke your brain to work hard on other things, such as the reasons why the life expectancies may differ, or the link between a country’s recent history and its human development level.

Strategy 2: Case studies

All Geographers should be referring to case studies in their exams. It makes sense to spend some time on these. As with the definitions, you should go through your syllabus and write a list of the required case studies. Most teachers will add in extra examples on the course, so the exam syllabus might not require as many as you think.

If you have case study notes from class, use those. But if you don’t have any notes, try to find sources that have a small number of case study countries. You can find lots of case studies on this site (I focus on the USA, China and Kenya). This makes it easier to cross-reference different case studies, and achieve a more complex answer in the exam.

I suggest using a simple case study proforma. Aim for one sheet of paper per case study. Something like this might work, but it will probably vary from case study to case study:

Location: Continent / Region / Country / City
Syllabus link Write out the syllabus point it links to.
Key issue What is the main issue here? Write the syllabus in words that make sense to you.
Key facts Write down all the factual information. Focus on numbers and place names if possible.
Main points Describe the main points of the case study.
Debate? Note any debates. For example, if the question is about infrastructure development in Hong Kong, you could write down any points of failure, or questions about it.
Anything else? Any other points you haven’t mentioned above.

Secret strategy 3: read the book

I’m not a big fan of passive revision strategies, and reading is the second most passive you can be (after watching YouTube videos). But, my past students have told me that they found reading the textbook to be helpful. It won’t get you a top grade, but if you focus and combine it with note taking, it can help you to pass.

Good luck!

Those were my top tips for revising Geography in one week. Do you have any other great ideas for revision over a one week period? Leave a comment below, and thanks for visiting!

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