Interpreting exam questions, and how to structure them?

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tssf_skye
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So, I am fine with all the content included in the Geography specification. However I find understanding the question, what they are asking and how to structure it quite difficult and it often brings my mark don.

Can anyone explain how to tackle this?

For instance, I was just given this exam question:

'With reference to a country you have studied, examine the view that whilst economic development brings economic and social benefits, it is always at an environmental cost'. (15)

With 'examine' do I do positive and negatives of social and economic, or do I just do social and then negative effects on the environment?!

Thanks in advance!
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moggington
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(Original post by tssf_skye)
So, I am fine with all the content included in the Geography specification. However I find understanding the question, what they are asking and how to structure it quite difficult and it often brings my mark don.

Can anyone explain how to tackle this?

For instance, I was just given this exam question:

'With reference to a country you have studied, examine the view that whilst economic development brings economic and social benefits, it is always at an environmental cost'. (15)

With 'examine' do I do positive and negatives of social and economic, or do I just do social and then negative effects on the environment?!

Thanks in advance!
'Examine' is similar to the term 'assess'. The title of the question makes a statement that economic development has an environmental cost, so you want to answer it by looking at both sides i.e. economic development that has had environmental costs but then provide the alternative viewpoint by referencing a case study on economic development that was good for the environment.

To conclude it, it'd be good to just summarise your argument in a sentence or two or answer the question directly.

Also, just because it says 'with reference to a country you have studied', it definitely doesn't mean you should only use 1 case study. The more case studies you've got and the better the detail, the greater the amount of marks. Remember that economic development isn't merely confined to developing countries, so getting a range of examples from countries of varying levels of development would be good to do too.
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tssf_skye
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(Original post by moggington)
'Examine' is similar to the term 'assess'. The title of the question makes a statement that economic development has an environmental cost, so you want to answer it by looking at both sides i.e. economic development that has had environmental costs but then provide the alternative viewpoint by referencing a case study on economic development that was good for the environment.

To conclude it, it'd be good to just summarise your argument in a sentence or two or answer the question directly.

Also, just because it says 'with reference to a country you have studied', it definitely doesn't mean you should only use 1 case study. The more case studies you've got and the better the detail, the greater the amount of marks. Remember that economic development isn't merely confined to developing countries, so getting a range of examples from countries of varying levels of development would be good to do too.
Thank you so much, that has been really helpful! How do you advise I structure the answer to this? Most of my trouble lies in interpreting and structuring the question, is there anyway to simply interpret the question correctly?

Thanks!
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moggington
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(Original post by tssf_skye)
Thank you so much, that has been really helpful! How do you advise I structure the answer to this? Most of my trouble lies in interpreting and structuring the question, is there anyway to simply interpret the question correctly?

Thanks!
So, firstly you'd want to start off with a definition. Economic development could be defined here. Yes, it sounds like you're stating the obvious, but that's precisely what the examiner needs to see because they want to see that you understand what you're being asked.

So, for a 10 mark question:

Introduction - definition
1st paragraph - an agreement with the statement being made in the question.
2nd paragraph - a contrasting viewpoint which disagrees with the statement, or perhaps looks at it from a different perspective.
Conclusion - answer the question directly/summarise your argument.

Similarly, you want to aim for the same sort of layout for a 15 mark question but extend it to 3 core paragraphs. In terms of dividing it for/against in a 15 mark, it's entirely up to you. You may gain additional marks for making an assessment of which point/factor is the most important etc.

Case studies for each point that you make, ideally.
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