IGCSE and GCSE Geography Coursework (Paper 4)


Paper 4 is the alternative to coursework paper that is worth 27.5% of your final IGCSE grade. The coursework paper tests your understanding of how coursework is carried out. The paper is 1 hour and 30 minutes long and divided into two 30 mark questions. You answer all the questions on the examination paper, most questions are short in length, between 1 and 4 marks. The paper requires a combination of knowledge and skills. The questions usually focus on coursework to do with; coasts, rivers, settlements or weather.


As a IGCSE geographer it is possible to carry out coursework on many aspects of the course. Possible topics and areas of study may include:

Rivers

  • Changes in river velocity from source to mouth
  • Changes in load (shape and size) from source to mouth
  • Changes in channel depth, width, cross-section and wetted perimeter from source to mouth
  • Changes in discharge from source to mouth
  • Changes across a meanders cross section
  • Changes in river gradient from source to mouth
  • Changes in valley size and gradient from source to mouth
  • Changes in land use a long a river
  • Changes in pollution along a rivers' course (you need proper equipment for this)

Coasts

  • Changes in vegetation (cover and variety) moving inland
  • Changes in beach profile and sand dune profile
  • Speed of longshore drift
  • Changes in land use
  • Changes in defences (compare to land use)
  • Changes in beach or dune material (size or shape)

Settlements

  • Changes in land use
  • Changes in traffic (maybe CBD to rural-urban fringe)
  • Changes in pedestrians
  • Number and type of tourists
  • Changes in the quality of the environment or pollution levels (may look at the impact of industry)
  • Changes in globalisation
  • Changes in cost of products
  • Comparison to Burgess or Hoyt Model
  • Changes in wealth or population density (will have to use some secondary data)
  • Sphere of influences of settlements or services

Weather

  • Changes in temperature throughout the day or between seasons
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Changes in humidity
  • Changes in hours of sunshine or cloud cover
  • Changes in wind speed and wind direction

Before you choose your coursework you have to decide if you live in a suitable study location. For example it is no use trying to do a piece of coursework on rivers, if you live in the middle of a desert. Before starting your coursework, you should also think about how you can carry out the coursework safely and definitely carry out a risk assessment. You can make your coursework safer by doing the following:
  • Protection from the weather (waterproof jacket, umbrella, hat, suncream)
  • Sensible dress (remember you will be representing your school, but you should also wear clothes that don't draw attention to yourself
  • Always carry out coursework in groups
  • Always tell an adult or teacher where you area carrying out coursework
  • Always carry a mobile phone with you
  • Never do coursework near a river or the sea without an adult or teacher and without them checking that it is safe
  • Carry out coursework in day light and wear reflective clothes
  • Check that your study area is safe. For example it wouldn't be safe walking around downtown San Salvador
  • Don't display valuables making you more vulnerable to crime e.g. if you have a camera or a phone keep it out of sight


Introduction


Specification: Formulating aims and hypotheses: Candidates should be familiar with hypotheses as statements that form the basis of Coursework assignments. The hypotheses may investigate a geographical concept e.g. ‘A CBD has the highest concentration of comparison shops’. Collecting relevant data, analysis and drawing conclusions using the data as evidence can test these.

Hypothesis: A hypothesis is a prediction or statement that you make before your data collection. A hypothesis is normally based on theory. During your investigation you attempt to prove or disprove your hypothesis. A piece of coursework may have more than one hypothesis and it does not matter if you prove or disprove it.

A hypothesis should always be SMART. If your hypotheses are not SMART then it can be impossible to prove or disprove them.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-related

SMART hypotheses may include:
  • The width of a river will increase as you move from the source to the mouth
  • The amount of traffic will increase as you move from the rural-urban fringe to the CBD
  • The amount of vegetation will increase as you move inland from the sea (distance = 200metres)
  • The hottest part of the day will be between 1200 and 1400.

Data Collection


Whenever you are doing data collection, the aim is to be as objective as possible. Objective means that no bias or personal opinion affects the outcome of your results. The opposite to be objective is being subjective. Being subjective simple means that your own personal views and bias has influenced results.

Objective: This is when data collection is not influenced by people's personal opinion. This is very hard to achieve because even the design of data collection forms are influenced by people's opinion. However, it is possible to try be as objective as possible by following a sampling technique, collecting data in groups and following the methodology closely.

Subjective: This is when your personal opinion has an influence on the outcome of the data collection. Everyone has personal bias, so this is not necessarily bad, but you should recognise this in your methodology and evaluation.

Primary data: Any data that is personally collected by you (this does not mean collecting off the internet). Primary data may include traffic counts, pedestrian counts, environmental indexes, questionnaires or land use surveys.

Secondary data: Any data that has been collected by someone else. Secondary data collection maybe found in books, on the internet, in academic journals, etc. Probably the most useful secondary data is census data.

Census: The census is a survey carried out by nearly all countries every 10 years. The census is a very detailed survey that is compulsory for everyone to fill in. It includes a lot of data including family size, income, house size and car ownership.


Primary data

Secondary data

Advantages

  • It is up to date (current)
  • You know how the data has been collected i.e. what technique
  • It only includes data that is relevant to your coursework
  • It only covers your study area
  • It is collected in the format that you want
  • You can study temporal changes e.g. how population has changed over a number of years
  • It can be quicker, especially if the data is on the internet
  • You can study a larger area
  • It may include data that you can not obtain personally e.g. salaries

Disadvantages

  • The data may include some personal bias
  • Data collection can be time consuming
  • It can be expensive to travel to places to collect data
  • It is hard to study temporal changes
  • Some data might be unavailable or too dangerous to collect
  • Only possible to cover a small area
  • It is out of date, especially if it has been printed in a book.
  • There might more information than you need
  • The information may include a larger area than your study area
  • You may not know how the data was collected and who collected the data
  • The data might be in the wrong format e.g. in a graph and not raw figures

Quantitative data: This is any data that involves figures. Quantitative data is very easy to present and analyse. Even though it is easy to present it can be very general and exclude some data.

Qualitative data: This is is more written data or even photographs or pictures. It tends to me individual and personal, but it can be very hard to present and analyse. Qualitative data often comes about as the results of interviews with open-ended questions.

Pilot Survey: This is basically a test that you carry out before your data collection. It is very important that you test your data collection forms to ensure that you ask all the right questions and your collection forms contain all the right categories. It is too expensive and too time consuming to going and collect data a second time, if you missed it the first time.

Sampling: As a Geography student you will only have a limited amount of time and money to carry out your coursework. Therefore it will probably be necessary to only investigate a sample. A sample is simply a section or part of the entire study area or study population. The two main types of sampling are; systematic and random.

Systematic Sampling: This is when you collect data in a regular pattern. For example you may ask a questionnaire to every 10th person that passes you, or you might only record the land use every 50 metres or every 5th building. When recording changes in river depth, beach profile or changes in vegetation you may only take a sample every 5 metres.

Random Sampling: This is when every area or person in your study area has an equal chance of being selected or asked. Random sampling can be done by pulling names out of a hat, by using a random number table or a random number generator on a calculator.


Advantages

Disadvantages

Systematic Sampling

  • Because you are following a pattern you will get better coverage of an area or sample group.
  • Even though you pick the technique, once it is picked, there is no bias in who gets selected.
  • It is very simple to understand and carry out.
  • Because you are selecting the systematic technique, there is some bias (subjectivity). You decide how often to take a sample.
  • Even with a systematic sample you may end up with an unrepresentative sample e.g. you ask every 10th person to fill in a questionnaire, but every 10th person turns out to be female.

Random Sampling

  • Every person or every location/place has a completely equal chance of being selected
  • It is quick and simple
  • Because it is totally random, results maybe completely random and not representative e.g. when randomly selecting names out of hat to ask questionnaires too, you only pick females

Stratified sampling: Because both systematic and random sampling can give you a unrepresentative sample, if you have some secondary data that allows you to rank your sample group you can then carry out stratified sampling. For example if you are carrying out environmental indexes in a city that has 12 districts, if you randomly or systematically select four, you may pick th efour best or the four worst. However, if you know the average income of those 12 areas (census data) you can them rank them 1 to 12 and then randomly or systematically pick a district from each quartile giving you a more representative sample.

Specification: Enquiry skills to collect data: Questions on this paper will test knowledge and application of the methodology used in the following range of data collection enquiry skills.

Specification: Questionnaires – Questionnaires can be oral or written to gain information from an individual or a group of individuals. Suitable themes in the syllabus where questionnaires may be appropriately studied include spheres of influence, use of services, shopping habits, a farm study, a factory or industrial study, leisure activities, tourism, or attitudes of the public to developments associated with resource development. Consideration should be given to factors influencing the successful design of questionnaires e.g. layout, format of questions, the appropriate wording of questions and the number of questions. The practical considerations of conducting a questionnaire e.g. the sampling methods, pilot survey, and location of survey should also be discussed.

When carrying out a questionnaire or interview you must do the following:
  • Decide on your questions (what do you need to find out and what type of question are you going to ask)
  • Whether to do the questions orally or give them in written form (you may have to think about translations)
  • How you are going to pilot (test) your questions
  • How you are going to record the answers (record them, write them down, trying to remember is unreliable)
  • How you are going to sample (random, systematic, stratified)
  • Remember that you are representing yourself and the school - be polite
  • Remember people don't have to answer questions and they may be sensitive about some e.g. age groups and income groups.

When actually designing your questions you have two real choice; open or closed:

Open ended questions: These are questions that have infinite numbers of answers. The respondent has no restriction on how they might answer e.g. What have you enjoyed about El Salvador?

Closed questions: These are when there is a limited number of responses. These questions are often multiple choice in style e.g. What have you enjoyed about El Salvador? A: The people B: The weather C: The beaches D: The Colonial Villages E: Other


Advantages

Disadvantages

Open ended questions

  • You are getting the respondents personal opinion. They are not limited in their response.
  • Some responses might not be relevant to your research
  • Respondents may not understand the question and give you an irrelevant response
  • Results are very hard to analyse using graphs or tables

Closed questions

  • All answers will be relevant to your research
  • The results are easy to analyse using graphs and tables
  • The results lack personal opinion. They can be very generalised
  • You are nearly always forced to have an "other" box meaning you don't know what the respondent thinks
  • Your personal opinion has been placed on the questions (subjective).

Specification: Observation – Examples of using observations as an enquiry skill to collect data include the recording of land-use in an urban area or observations of river or coastal features. Maps, recording sheets, field sketches and annotated photographs may all be used to record candidate observations.

Land use: Land use survey are a very common form of data collection. When carrying out a land use survey you first need to think of appropriate categories e.g. restaurants, clothes shops, banks, houses, etc. You then then need to decide whether you are just looking at total numbers or spatial distribution. If you are just looking at total numbers then you can make a simple tally chart, if you look at spatial distribution you need a base map and an appropriate key. When doing a land use survey you also need to decide if you are surveying every building or just taking a sample.

Land use Tally

Land Use
Tally
Total
Clothes shops (men and women) e.g. GAP or ZARA
IIII
4 (four)
Banks and building societies e.g. HSBC
II
2 (two)
Restaurants (cafes and restaurants) e.g. Starbucks
III
3 (three)
Shoe shops
I
1 (one)
Other
III
3 (three)
Land Use Map
Land Use
Key
Clothes shops
CS
Banks and Building societies
BB
Restaurants and cafes
RC
Shoe shops
SS
Other
O
Blank Map To Carry Out Survey
Blank Map To Carry Out Survey

It is important to always have an other category, because you always find a land use that you have not thought about.

For information on when and how to use field sketches, sketch maps and maps refer to the IGCSE skills page: IGCSE Skills (Paper 2)

Photographs are an increasingly common form of data presentation. Using photos is now a lot easier in the digital era when you can crop, manipulate and annotate photographs. However, a common mistake is still to include photos that aren't relevant to answer your hypothesis. Many people include photographs that aren't even referred to in their text and are not properly labelled.
Advantages of Photographs
Disadvantages of Photographs
  • They are more accurate than field sketches
  • They can be good for showing data collection techniques e.g. measuring a river's load
  • They can support data collection findings e.g. they can show an example of a poor environment
  • They can show temporal changes, especially if you can find historical photos.
  • You can annotate and label them.
  • People often include photos that are not relevant e.g. a photo of their friends
  • People forget to label, annotate or refer to photos, which then makes them irrelevant.
  • People often only photograph the nice things e.g. pretty view and forget the more ugly areas that are just as important e.g. area of pollution
  • They can often contains too much information e.g. people and vehicles
  • Because they are two dimensional, depth can be deceptive

Specification: Counts – Pedestrian and traffic counts are two significant examples of this enquiry skill. Appropriate methods for recording the counts should be discussed including the layout of recording sheets, instructions and the necessary information required to identify the sheet following the count (i.e. time, date, location and name of recorder).

The two most common types of count are traffic count and pedestrian count. When designing traffic and pedestrian counts keep the forms simple. Have an area for the tally and an area to add up the total. It also is very important to have a place to mark down the date, time and location of the count. This is important for when you return to the classroom and start data presentation and making comparisons. When ever doing a count you need to find a safe location and carry it out for 10 minutes. If you are comparing different locations you should and do the counts at the same time, this makes comparisons fair. For example if you did one traffic count at 08.00am when everyone was travelling to work and one at 11.00am when everyone is at work then the comparison is unfair. Tallies are usually used when doing counts because they are quick and simple.

DATE:
TIME:
LOCATION:

Tally
Total (add up your tally after you have done the data collection
Cars
external image 6123795-cuando-una-hoja-de-tally-de-recuento-es-a-menudo-muy-til.jpg

102

Bikes


Buses and coaches


Lorries (trucks)


Taxis


Other


TOTAL


As well traffic and pedestrian counts environmental and globalisation indexes are also very common and simple forms of data collection. Indexes normally use bi-polar scoring. This simply means the score goes from negative to positive with 0 being the average. Indexes are quite subjective (one person might think one crisp packet is a lot of litter while enough might think it is hardly ant litter), therefore, to keep the indexes consistent for comparisons you should do them in groups and one group should do all the same index e.g. group 1 only does environmental indexes. Like with counts, it is very important that you write down the date, time and location of the index and that where possible indexes are done at the same time.

Environmental index: This is a type of survey that looks at the quality of the environment. Your survey may focus on any aspect of the environment e.g. air or noise pollution, greenery, litter, graffiti.

Globalisation index: This is a type of survey that looks at how globalised a settlement or a section of a settlement is. The survey make look at any aspect of globalisation including language, signage, businesses and people.

With both environmental and globalisation indexes you use bi-polar scoring. Once you have completed the index you add up the marks to give an area an overall score.

DATE:
TIME:
LOCATION:

-2 (minus two)
-1 (minus one)
0 (zero)
+1 (plus one)
+2 (plus two)

Lots of litter




*
No litter
Lots of noise e.g. cars, factories and people


*


No noise (silence)
Broken windows and graffiti



*

Newly painted and new windows
No greenery, only concrete

*



Lots of trees, parks and green areas
TOTAL SCORE = 2

Specification: Measurement – When recording measurements, due consideration should be given to planning the layout of the recording sheet, the location of instruments and the sampling methods adopted to provide reliable data. Knowledge of the equipment used in measurement is required such as the quadrat, the clinometer and the pebbleometer or callipers. Candidates should be familiar with river measurements of channel width, depth, speed of flow and the size and shape of bedload; beach studies of beach profile, the size and shape of pebbles and the movement of beach material and weather study instruments closely linked to Theme 2.2 as well as measurement techniques associated with human fieldwork such as survey strategies and pedestrian/traffic counts.

Weather Equipment

EQUIPMENT NAME
PHOTO
DESCRIPTION (WHAT DOES IT MEASURE)
Stevenson Screen
external image Stevenson-Screen.jpg
A stevenson screen is basically a white louvered wooden box. The box is designed to contain some weather equipment like thermometers and barometers. The stevenson screen is white to reflect sunlight and has slats to allow air to circulate easily. The stevenson should be placed above the ground and away from the buildings. The idea is for the weather instruments to take accurate readings of the air, rather than direct sunlight or heat from the ground or from buildings.
Barometer
external image 530700LG.jpg
Barometers are used to measure air pressure. Air pressure is normally measured in millibars. Barometers are normally kept inside stevenson screens to keep them safe. A barometer has a movable needle (pointer). The pointer can be moved to the current reading so that you can then make a comparison with the reading from the following day.
Max./Min. Thermometer (sometimes called a Six's thermometer after its inventor)
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A maximum and minimum thermometer records the maximum temperature of the day and the minimum temperature of the day (diurnal range). A maximum/minimum thermometer contains a mixture of mercury and alcohol. The mercury sits in the u-bend of the thermometer. The bulb at the top of the tube reading the minimum temperature contains alcohol and the bulb at the top of the tube reading the maximum temperature contains a vacuum. On the minimum side the expansion of the mercury is restricted by the contracting alcohol, on the maximum side the expanding mercury can expand more freely into the vacuum. At any given time both thermometers should record the same temperature. However, during the day they would have recorded the maximum and minimum temperature - a steel marker should indicate these temperatures.
Wet/Dry Bulb Thermometer (hygrometer)
external image 1004_2007817162257.jpg
A hygrometer measures the humidity of the air. Humidity is the amount of moisture (water vapour) in the air. A hygrometer has two thermometers, a dry one and a wet. Humidity is measured by using a table that looks at the difference between the wet bulb and the dry bulb. A hygrometer can also be used to find dew point. There is a difference between the dry and wet bulb thermometers because of latent heat created during the process of evaporation.
external image ESRT10-Relative%20Humidity2.jpg
Rain gauge
external image rain-gauge.jpg
Rain gauges are used to measure rainfall. Rainfall is normally measured in millimetres. Rain gauges should be placed on grass, because if they are placed on concrete, extra water can splash in. Rain gauges should also be checked regularly to avoid evaporation.
Wind Vane
external image Wind_vane_05643.jpg
Wind vanes are used to check the direction of the wind. Compass points are used to give wind direction. Wind is measured in the direction that the wind is coming from. Wind vanes are often placed on top of buildings so that they are fully exposed to the wind. When using a wind vane you need to use a compass to make sure that it is properly aligned.
Anemometer
external image cup-anemometer-486244.jpg
Anemometers measure wind speed. Wind speed is normally measured in mph or kph, but can also be measured in m/s (metres a second). Digital anemometers are very accurate, but the more basic plastic ones that many schools have aren't very good or accurate at recording light winds.
Cloud Cover
external image oktas.gif
It is also possible to count day light hours, sunshine hours or cloud cover. To Calculate day light hours you need to record the time between sun rise and sun set. To Calculate sun shine hours is a lot harder, because you have to time every time the sun comes out (stopwatch). To calculate cloud cover a mirror is often used. You divide the mirror into squares and then place the mirror on the ground. The mirror will reflect the clouds and you can count the number of squares covered or partially covered by cloud. You can do this as a percentage or convert to oktas which is the normal measurement of cloud cover. You have to take several readings to avoid anomalous results.

Other Fieldwork Equipment


Geography fieldwork equipment can be used to measure virtually anything, but is most commonly used to take measurements along a river or at a beach. Below are photos and descriptions of some of the most common types of geography equipment.
EQUIPMENT NAME
PHOTO
DESCRIPTION
Quadrat
external image quadrat1.jpg?w=510&h=382
A quadrat is normally used for measuring vegetation cover. A quadrat is normally 50cm2 and divided into 100 small squares. By placing the quadrat over an area of vegetation you can calculate the area covered in vegetation or calculate the percentages of different vegetation types. Quadrats are also sometimes used for randomly selecting river load or beach material. You can put the quadrat over the area you want to sample and then using a random number table or calculator, select a square to collect the sample from.
Tape Measure
external image fisco_pacer.jpg
These are used for measuring medium distances (commonly they go up to 30 or 50 metres). They are very good for measuring the width of rivers, where one student can stand on either bank.
Metre Rule
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A metre rule is used for measuring short distances. Commonly they are used for measuring the depth of rivers. Plastic metre rules are great for this because they float if you drop them.
Trundle Wheel
external image AC110037l.jpg
These are used for measuring much longer distances. You walk with a trundle wheel in front of you, each click represents one metre. You can sometimes alter trundle wheel so that they click every 10 centimeters.
Callipers
external image Calipers.png
Callipers are used to measure the width, depth or length of small objects like load. You place the object to be measured inside the calliper and then close the calliper and read off the measurement (normally centimetres or millimetres) because the object is small. Callipers are great for recording changes in a river's load or changes in beach material.
Clinometer
external image 11039DD.jpg
Clinometers are used for measuring slope angle (gradient). They are normally used in conjunction with ranging poles. You place one ranging pole at the top of a slope and one at the bottom. You then look through the clinometer measuring the angle from one ranging pole to another ranging pole. To get an accurate angle, you normally take an up reading and a down reading.
Ranging Pole
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Ranging poles, look like a javelin and are normally used for measuring slope angle with a clinometer. However, they can also be used for measuring things like the depth of a river.
Metal Chain
external image seamless-chrome-chain.jpg
Metal chains are very good at measuring the wetted perimiter of rivers. The wetted perimiter is the total length of the bed and the two banks. Metal chains are good at measuring this because they sink and adopt the shape of the wetted perimiter. Once your chain has adopted the shape you can then pull the chain out of the river and measure its length.
Flowmeter
external image c-flowuse_product_page_lightbox.jpg
Flowmeters are used for measuring the velocity of rivers. They have a small propeller which you place just under the surface of the water. Depending on the speed of the propeller a small digital read out then gives the speed of the river. If you don't have a flowmeter you can still measure river velocity by using a floating object e.g. table tennis ball, a stop watch and tape measure. You can measure out a distance e.g. 10 metres and then time how long it takes the table tennis ball to travel 10 metres. You can then use the formula speed = distance/time to calculate velocity. This latter method is not as accurate because the table tennis ball will be slowed because of friction with the air.
Stopwatch
external image stopwatch.jpg
Stopwatches are used in lots of different data collection techniques e.g. traffic counts and measuring river velocity. Stopwatches simply measure a period of time.
Compass
external image 440
Compasses are very simply used for working out direction. They might be used for measuring the direction of a wind vane or the direction of a river.
Gradeometer
external image en101580.jpg
Gradeometers are great for measuring the angle of small slopes. You place the gradeometer on the slope, as the legs adjust the slope you can simply read the slope angle, using the protractor in the top corner.
Roundness Index
external image Powers.gif
Roundness index is basically used to measure the shape of an object. There are a number of different roundness index, but most go from a scale of very angular to very rounded. Roundness index can be used to look at changes in a river's load or changes in beach material.
Pebbleometer
external image FieldTrip3.jpg
A very basic device for measuring the size and shape of material found on a beach or in a river.
Infiltrometer
external image sing%20ring.jpg
Infiltrometers are used to measure infiltration rates of different surfaces. You basically place the infiltrometer on a surface (making sure the seal is secure) and then fill it with water and time how long the water takes to infiltrate.

Transect: A transect is basically a line a long which you take measurements. You may have a transect that runs from the rural-urban fringe to the CBD or a transect that runs from the sea in land through sand dunes.

Methodology


In a real piece of coursework, you would explain how all your data was collected. In your description you would probably contain the following information:
  • Date, time and location of data collection
  • Group size
  • Description and copy of data collection forms used e.g. questionnaires or counts
  • Explanation of how the forms were used e.g. sample size, count period, count technique, etc.
  • Description of equipment and an explanation of its use.

Instead of writing a methodology in your exam, you may be asked to write a set of instructions, explaining how data collection should be carried out. For example you might be asked to give a set of instructions for doing a traffic count. You might say:
  • Find a safe location near the road your are counting traffic
  • Count the traffic in both directions for a 10 minute period
  • A tally should be used for counting because this is easy and quick
  • At the end of 10 minutes count up the totals for each type of vehicle.

You may also be asked about how your data collection could be improved. Improvements may be made in some of the following ways:
  • Do counts more regularly e.g. every one or two hours
  • Do counts, surveys or indexes in more locations
  • Do counts, surveys and indexes on different days of the week (including weekends)
  • Get two groups doing the same survey, index or count so that an average may be taken



Data Presentation


Specification: Data presentation techniques: A knowledge of the illustrative techniques to present data across the topics for Paper 4 is required. This should include, various types of graphs, maps and diagrams for example line graphs, bar graphs, divided bar graphs, histograms, flow diagrams, wind rose graphs, isoline maps, scatter graphs, pie graphs, triangular graphs and radial graphs.

You will probably be asked to complete a graph, diagram or table in the coursework examination. Therefore you should remember the same equipment as paper 2:
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Protractor
  • Compass
  • Calculator

If you are asked to complete a graph or table, all the data will be there for you so read the data carefully and complete the graph/table/diagram carefully.

You may also be asked the advantages (strengths) and disadvantages (weaknesses) of a particular data presentation technique. Strengths and weaknesses may include:

Strengths (advantages)

Weaknesses (disadvantages)

  • Shows spatial distribution e.g. dot map
  • Shows variations between regions and countries e.g. choropleth map
  • Visually interesting (interesting colours, symbols)
  • Very bold and clear
  • Easy to understand
  • Clearly shows trends and anomallies
  • Can disguise intra-region or intra-country variations e.g. choropleth map
  • Hard to see trends and anomalies
  • Very complicated to read
  • Symbols take up to much room
For further information on different data presentation techniques go the skills page of the wiki: IGCSE Skills (Paper 2)

Data Analysis


Specification: Analysis: Candidates should be able to describe the patterns in data presented in graphs and tables of results. Reference to relevant geographical knowledge and understanding is often required in the interpretation of the data. Practice of this skill will improve success in Paper 4 questions.

You maybe asked to do some basic data analysis of graphs, tables, maps, photographs or sketches. When doing data analysis remember the following:
  • Look for trends and correlations (if there is not a overall trend, look for smaller trends)
  • Look for anomalies (things that don't fit the general trend)
  • When ever you refer to trend and anomalies you must support with evidence e.g. facts and figures from graph or table.
  • Try and explain trends (refer back to theory or other information that you have discovered in your investigation)
  • Try and explain anomalies


Conclusion and Evaluation


Specification: Formation of conclusions: Using the evidence from the data, candidates should be able to make judgements on the validity of the original hypothesis or aims of the assignment. Reference is also required of the reliability of the collected data and a critical evaluation of the chosen data collection methods.

Conclusion: This is basically a summary of your investigation. If you are asked to write a conclusion remember the following:
  • Refer back to original hypothesis
  • Use some data to support your findings
  • Refer to theory (if mentioned in introduction) - do your findings agree or disagree with theory
  • State what you have learnt from your investigation

Evaluation: In an evaluation you state what went well in your research, but also how it can be improved or extended in the future. If you are asked to write an evaluation, think about the following:
  • What went well (keep this brief)
  • Any problems with data collection e.g. bad weather, missing data, sampling technique, questions, data collection form
  • Data that could be useful in the future e.g. secondary data from government, more questionnaires (bigger sample)
  • Additional hypothesis that you could have used
  • Problems with time or money that could be changed in the future