Changes for 2021

This page may be out of date

The Government announced on 6 January that exams won’t go ahead as normal in summer 2021, so some of this information may change. We’ll update this page as soon as further detail becomes available.

Read about 2021 exam changes

Following Ofqual’s announcement about changes to assessment in summer 2021, here are the changes you need to know for GCSE Geography.

  1. Fieldwork is not required.
  2. There will be no questions about student’s own fieldwork experience in the exam.

Please note: these changes only apply to assessments being completed this academic year.

Fieldwork not required

Students do not need to complete two occasions of fieldwork.

This means you do not need to submit a centre declaration form to say that students have been given the opportunity to undertake fieldwork.

Whilst it is not required, we still encourage you to plan and deliver as much fieldwork as possible.

Familiar fieldwork questions removed

Question 5 will be removed from Section B in 8035/3 Paper 3: Geographical applications. These are questions relating to students' own fieldwork experience (familiar fieldwork).

The total number of marks available for the 8035/3 paper will reduce from 76 to 56 marks (a removal of 20 marks).

There will still be 6 marks of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) available for this 8035/3 paper. The 3 marks of SPaG attached to the 9 mark question in Section B will be re-allocated to a 6 mark question in Section A of the paper.

The total time allocation for the 8035/3 paper will reduce from 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Unfamiliar fieldwork questions remain

Question 4 in Section B of 8035/3 Paper 3: Geographical applications will remain part of the assessment. These are questions set in an unfamiliar fieldwork context.

‘Unfamiliar fieldwork’ questions make up 16 marks of Section B (12 marks of AO4 and 4 marks of AO3), and this will remain the same for 2021. This means that these questions largely assess Geographical Skills (AO4), with some application (AO3).

The Geographical Skills checklist can be found in section 3.4.2 of the specification Graphical skills. Understanding the fieldwork enquiry process (3.3.2 Section B: Fieldwork) means that you can see which strands can be examined and where AO4 is likely to be tested. This is something that you'll also see reflected in the SAMs and past papers.

Being familiar with past paper questions will help here, to see the style of question, stimulus used and how unfamiliar fieldwork contexts can be tested.

This might shape how you approach preparing students for this part of the assessment. These skills questions, as well as those marks attached to application can be integrated in to the teaching of the main specification content without the need to be taught separately.

No other changes

  • There are no other planned changes to the content or assessments for GCSE Geography.
  • Paper 1: Living with the physical environment and Paper 2: Challenges in the human environment will be assessed as normal.
  • Paper 3: Geographical applications, Section A (Issue Evaluation) remains unchanged. The pre-release materials will be released 12 weeks before the exam, as normal.
  • Paper 3: Geographical applications, Question 4 in Section B (unfamiliar fieldwork) remains unchanged.

Help and support

Explore past CPD event materials on Secure Key Materials on e-AQA (speak to your exams officer if you do not have a login).

View a sample question paper and mark scheme for the 2021 exams.

If you require further guidance, please contact us.