GeogBlog: Using case studies in exam answers
GCSEPod Geography author Vicki Hull gives us some tips on using case studies in geography exams.
A top tip for your exam answers is to use case studies effectively. The top Geographers will use case studies in their answers to show off their knowledge and real geographical understanding to the examiner.
So what are they and why do we use them? Case studies are real places/situations/events which are happening or have happened. We use real examples to show geographical ideas and theory in action. You need to use them so you can show you really ‘get’ the geography.
What do I need to know?
Firstly you need to know what your case study is an example of. The Kashmir earthquake was 7.6 on the Richter scale on 8th October 2005 is an example of a large earthquake event at a collision plate margin in a poorer country. Note that the question may ask for a richer or poorer country example and you must think about how the consequences may be different depending on the location of the event.
What is the detail?
Facts and figures show you have learned the case study in depth. Over 79 000 people were killed and 100 000 injured in Kashmir – this is better than just saying ‘many people’.
What are the effects?
Effects are what happened as a result of the event.
Primary and secondary effects occur in the short term. Primary are caused directly by the earthquake: Buildings collapsed, infrastructure was damaged causing death and injury. Secondary effects could be: disease from contaminated water supplies, fires from broken gas pipes, in Kashmir people died from the cold winter as they were living in tents.
Longer term effects: these occur after the event and can continue for a long time. You can split them in to the following categories
- social – eg. schools were damaged and so children could not go to school for months until rebuilding occurred
- economic – eg. the overall cost of the damage was expected to be over $5 billion
- environmental – eg. landslides caused damage to forested areas and roads and villages were cut off.
What are the responses?
Responses are how people reacted and coped with the situation. These too can be short and long term.
Short term responses include immediate actions. In Kashmir locals tried to rescue those who were trapped before the army and emergency services arrived. Rescue teams from abroad including the UK arrived to help the search and rescue operation. The India/Pakistan border was opened to allow supplies through.
In the longer term… schools were rebuilt and re-supplied, teachers were trained in counselling for traumatised children, the Red Cross re-established water supplies in Muzzafarabad.
The exam question may ask for short or long term effects or responses. Read carefully before selecting the appropriate information.
When you learn a case study, make sure you revise the theory too. The Kashmir earthquake is a good opportunity to revise the 4 plate margins.
By learning your case studies well you can really show you know your geography.
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