That Blue Square Thing

GCSE Standard Markscheme

WARNING! These pages are now very old. Although I’ve updated the a little, the content really applies to an old version of any geography syllabus currently active in the UK.
I've kept them here because there might be something useful for someone and the general marking principles aren't all that different. But be aware that it's old and a bit out of date

GCSE case study questions are usually marked using a fairly standard markscheme.

The examiner will read the answer and then decide which level it falls into - Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. Not every question will have 3 levels - 4 mark questions will only be Level 1 and 2 for example.

The key to doing well is to get your answers into the top of Level 2 and, hopefully, Level 3. This means writing detailed, well explained points backed up with case studies.

The way to get marks is not to write lots of brief points but to make sure that you develop 3 or 4 points as well as you can do. If you can get each of these points into Level 2 or Level 3 you can score high marks quickly and efficiently - leaving yourself with plenty of time to answer the rest of the paper.

A list of 9 simple points will only get Level 1 marks - 2 out of 6 or 3 out of 9 for example.

Level Descriptors

This are the standard level descriptors examiners use.

Level One
Simple points with no development
Little or no detail
All lists are Level 1

Level Two
Clear understanding demonstrated
Some development of points and explanation of ideas
If example required must have one to reach Level 2

Level Three
Detailed understanding
Well developed points, fully explaining the ideas and linking points together
Well organised answer. Example clearly well understood with a detailed knowledge demonstrated

Notice that to get above a Level 1 answer you also have to use at least one appropriate example if the question asks for it. No example, no marks above Level 1.

Even if the question doesn't ask for an example it's worth including one if you can. It really helps to show the examiner that you know what you're talking about and sets you out from the crowd. Use examples!

If you really can't think of an example then the best thing to do is to guess or "be creative". You won't lose any marks by using an example which is wrong

An Example...

The hard thing is knowing what a Level 3 answer looks like. So, how about an example?

Q. Using an example you have studied explain why more people are visiting distant places on holiday today.

Level 1: "People have more money today."

This is a simple point without any development. It could be part of a list.

Level 2: "People earn higher wages today so they have more money to spend on holidays than in the past."

The point develops the answer briefly to explain why it's important that people have more money. Remember, you'd need an example of a place to get into Level 2 - perhaps people going on holiday from Britain to Spain.

Level 3: "People are more affluent today so they have more disposable income to spend on holidays than in the past. This means that they can afford to travel further on holiday to places such as Costa Rica or Australia. Air travel is usually quite expensive and the further you travel the more expensive the holiday will usually cost."

The point here has been developed further to demonstrate the link between higher pay and travelling further. The answer could then go on and talk about cheaper flights and package holidays and how distant locations are more accessible due to better air travel and more airports being built.

Notice as well how this answer uses technical terms like affluence and disposable income. This always impresses examiners and will gain marks. The examples used here are brief - at some point the answer would need to develop a better case study (perhaps on package holidays) - but they are enough to get the answer into Level 3, just.