Changes to 2021 exams for GCSE Geography

Published: Friday 11 Sep 2020

We’ve been working hard to make the relevant changes to our qualifications following Ofqual’s decisions on summer 2021 exams, so here are the changes you need to know about.

GCSE Geography (8035)

As you may know, on 3 August, Ofqual published their consultation outcomes, which stated the following with regards to the 2021 series of GCSE Geography:

Remove requirements for (i) written statement that centres have given students the opportunity to undertake 2 days of fieldwork and (ii) students to answer questions in the exam relating to their own fieldwork experience.

For summer 2021, we’ve reduced the length of our 8035/3 Paper 3: Geographical applications paper, and this will only feature the Issue Evaluation in Section A and questions relating to unfamiliar fieldwork in Section B. This means that students still need to understand the fieldwork enquiry process, and be able to apply this understanding in unfamiliar scenarios.

For summer 2021 only:

  • students won’t need to complete two occasions of fieldwork
  • you won’t need to submit a centre declaration form to say that students have been given the opportunity to undertake fieldwork
  • students won’t need to answer questions relating to their own fieldwork experience (Question 5 will be removed from 8035/3 Paper 3: Geographical applications).

We’re still finalising the details for these assessments, including length of time students will have to complete the 8035/3 paper given the reduction in marks, the balance of SPaG across the papers, and the provision of further guidance to exemplify the changes. We’ll be in touch again soon when we have more information about this.

In line with Ofqual’s guidance, we’d encourage you to still plan and deliver as much fieldwork as reasonably possible, to consider engaging in the enquiry process by virtual means where appropriate, and consider practising fieldwork skills in the classroom, on school grounds or in the local area.

You can also encourage students to draw from experts in this field such as the Field Studies Council, The Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society. If it’s safe and appropriate, students could visit fieldwork locations themselves to gain experience of collecting primary data.

There are no other planned changes to our GCSE Geography specification or to the assessments.

  • components 8035/1 (Paper 1: Living with the physical environment) and 8035/2 (Paper 2: Challenges in the human environment) will be assessed as normal
  • students will still need to answer questions in the 8035/3 pre-release material
  • students will still answer questions relating to unfamiliar fieldwork (Question 4), which will remain a feature of the assessment of 8035/3: Geographical applications).

There aren’t any changes to fieldwork requirements for Year 10 students sitting exams in summer 2022.

We know that you’ll want to know more about the changes for next summer. We’ll be publishing further guidance about the summer 2021 exams over the coming months.

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