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Lessons to be learned from the summer's GCSE exams - Paper 3: Fieldwork

Vicki Woolven

12th September 2023

My final blog highlights the important takeaways from the fieldwork section of the examiner report.

Each year this seems to be the part of the paper that teachers and students dread (completely understandable when you see this year's 9-marker), and lots of you were nervous seeing familiar fieldwork back in the exam.

Unfamiliar fieldwork

General comments

  • Students need reminding about the importance of reading the question stems carefully
  • Lots of students failed to complete the map
  • Students found it hard to describe patterns and made very simple observations from the house price map
  • Some good suggestions on how to improve the house price survey
  • Most students failed to complete the isoline map properly – showing that many are unfamiliar with this type of map
  • Students need reminding that when describing patterns on maps they should refer to direction and distance
  • Very few students got the data presentation MCQ right – highlighting the need to expose students to these types of maps in lessons
  • Most students answered the scatter graph questions well
  • Most students could suggest suitable questions for a survey

Familiar fieldwork

General comments

  • Students need reminding about the importance of writing down their fieldwork titles – so the examiner can check their answers correspond
  • Most students could explain their fieldwork location suitability
  • Most students didn’t justify their data collection methods – just stated them, however there were some good answers where students had linked them to theories (e.g. Bradshaw Model)
  • Some students clearly didn’t understand the term primary data so missed the question

6-marker on effectiveness of data presentation techniques

  • Overall, this was answered poorly
  • Lots of students chose not to answer this question
  • Many students talked about data collection methods, not presentation methods
  • Some students just listed data presentation method without any evaluation of their effectiveness
  • Some students gave basic ideas about clarity and usefulness

9-marker on accuracy of results and validity of conclusion

  • Lots of students described their results in detail and talked about data collection limitations
  • But, there wasn’t much discussion of accuracy of results, and little reference to the validity of the conclusion
  • Some students linked their results to accuracy but didn’t develop it so only got into Level 2
  • Students and teachers need to understand the complexity of the 9-marker here and how there are always links between the different strands of enquiry
  • It was clear that most students didn’t know how to approach this question

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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