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Craft better answers for Levels Questions


Common mistakes:
  • Writing an introduction paragraph with the summary of all the points you intend to discuss. It’s unnecessary!

  • Not using geographical terminologies in your explanation

  • Not supporting your explanation with detailed case studies (inclusive of statistics)

  • When examples are written, many are actually a repeat of the explanation but with the addition of a country name. Please avoid doing that! You’re better off not writing these kind of brief examples.

  • Writing brief body paragraphs so that you can attempt the conclusion. There’s no point giving a good conclusion if the main points of your argument are brief.

Some tips when answering levels questions!
  1. Identify the demand of the question

  2. Look out for the phrasing of the question to determine how many factors to consider in your answer (refer to table below).

  3. Look out for the main factor(s) stated in the question and address it in the first paragraph of your answer

  4. Leave your stand about the question to the conclusion (i.e. leave your “I agree with this statement to a large extent” to the conclusion and you justify your stand there)

  5. Your conclusion is not a summary of your factors!!! This is where you apply your geographical understanding to justify why one factor is more important or whatever the question demand is. That’s why it’s important to frame your conclusion paragraph and argument with geographical concepts!

  6. If you’re running short of time, focus on crafting detailed and well-explained body paragraphs, supported with examples. Do not focus on the conclusion when you're not done with your main argument.

The phrasing of the question will determine the number of factors to include in your answer. Here are 2 samples:

Sample #1:

Factor A is the most important factor in determining the intensity of food production.

How far do you agree with the statement? Explain your answer. [8]


Structure of your answer:

Para 1: Explain how Factor A can intensify food production (Given perspective)

Para 2: Explain how Factor B can intensify food production

Para 3: Explain how Factor C can intensify food production

Para 4: Conclusion – state your stand about whether you think Factor A is the most important factor. Justify why with the use of geographical concepts.


Sample #2:

Factor A is more important than Factor B in determining the intensity of food production.

How far do you agree with the statement? Explain your answer. [8]


Structure of your answer:

Para 1: Explain how Factor A can intensify food production (Given perspective)

Para 2: Explain how Factor B can intensify food production

Para 3: Conclusion – state your stand about whether you think Factor A is more important than Factor B. Justify why with the use of geographical concepts.



Some geographical concepts that you can consider when crafting your conclusion:
  • Scale of impact – localised, regional/ national, global/international

  • Time scale – long term vs. short term

  • Frequency of occurrence (e.g. when comparing the impact of earthquake and tsunami)

  • Level of development – DCs vs. LDCs (link to the financial capacity of the country and the accessibility to resources)


Sample Levels Question

‘The devastation brought about by a tsunami far outweighs that of any other tectonic hazard.’

Do you consider this statement to be true? Explain your answer. [8]



Given perspective

Devastation brought about by tsunami can significantly outweigh that of any other tectonic hazard as tsunamis can travel long distances and cause widespread destruction to coastal areas that are located far away from the origin of the tsunami.

  • Triggered by the 9.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the resultant tsunami spread throughout the Indian Ocean and caused damages to coastal communities in 12 countries.

  • Furthermore, due to the nature of how tsunami waves are generated, they can reach heights of 15m and travel at speeds of 30 to 50km/h as the increased amount of friction in shallower waters forces the waves to increase significantly in height.

  • As such, high energy tsunami waves can cause widespread destruction to the coastal and inland regions of low-lying countries such as Banda Aceh in western Sumatra, Indonesia. Tsunami waves between 4 to 39 metres in height travelled as far inland as 10 kilometres.


Alternative perspectives

However, the devastation brought about by earthquakes may outweigh the devastation brought about by tsunami due to the unpredictable and sudden nature of earthquakes which allows for little evacuation time, as well as the possibility of a series of violent aftershocks that may trigger secondary impacts such as landslides, liquefaction and further destruction of infrastructures.

  • The earthquake in 1970 off the coast of Peru destabilised the slopes of Mount Huascaran and triggered a massive landslide that travelled at more than 160 kilometres per hour and completely flattened the town of Ranrahirca within seconds, leading to a high death toll of more than 18,000.

  • During the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the loose and unconsolidated soil amplified the seismic waves and caused widespread liquefaction in the suburbs of Christchurch, as well as rock falls and slope instabilities in the Port Hills affected tens of thousands of residential buildings and properties.

  • In addition, devastation brought about by volcanic eruptions may outweigh the devastation brought about by tsunami as large scale volcanic eruptions may bring about long term regional problems that may in turn result in significant economic losses.

  • Large scale volcanic eruptions such as that of a stratovolcano can cause great destruction due to its explosiveness and the possibility of triggering deadly pyroclastic flows and lahars. Moreover, it may also lead to regional air pollution as large amounts of fine ash particles ejected during a volcanic eruption may be carried by wind over thousands of kilometres and lead to destruction of agricultural lands and closure of air space.

  • The eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, in 2010 produced extensive volcanic ash clouds containing tiny particles of abrasive glass, sand and rock. With prevailing wind blows the fine ash particles eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean, it posed a serious threat to aircraft engines and structures within the European region. As such, the eruption resulted in the closure of air space over much of Europe, causing delays to 1.2 million passengers daily and costing the airline industry a total of US$1.8 billion.


Conclusion

Nonetheless, devastation brought about by tsunami can significantly outweigh that of any other tectonic hazard in terms of its sheer scale of destruction on a regional and global scale. While other tectonic hazards such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes often bring about the greatest direct impact on a localised scale, the severity of tsunami destruction can be greatest where it is furthest away from the origin of the tsunami. For instance, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami travelled as far as nearly 5,000 kilometres to Africa, arriving with sufficient force to kill people and destroy property. Since the waves triggered by the underwater earthquake were able to cross entire oceans without great loss of energy, this shows that the devastation caused by tsunami can indeed outweigh that of any other tectonic hazards.


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