ISEB Common Entrance Geography Exam


Common Entrance Geography is divided into three sections: location knowledge, ordinance survey map work and thematic studies. The key topic areas within these sections are as follows: collection and recording, presentation, tectonic processes, meteorological processes, geomorphological processes, demographic processes, Transport and Industry and economic processes.

There are five assessment objectives, which are specified for students. Please find a full breakdown of CE Geography, as well as the requisite assessment details and objectives below.

Ordnance Survey mapwork skills

Candidates should know and understand:
4-figure and 6-figure grid references
Eastings, northings
Spot heights and contours
Orientation (8 points of the compass)

Candidates should be able to:
Follow routes
Identify relief and landscape features
Annotate simple sketch sections
Use maps in decision-making
Understand site, situation and shape of settlements

Fieldwork and enquiry skills

1. Collection and recording
May include: questionnaires: use and design
Surveys, e.g. shopping, traffic and pedestrian counts
Environmental quality surveys
Land-use mapping
Other mapping skills
Field sketches
Secondary sources, including internet, CD roms etc.

2. Presentation

May include: 
Maps: key, scale, direction  
Shaded (choropleth) maps 
Annotated sketch maps  
Flow maps 
Annotated field sketches and photographs 
Graphs, bar charts, divided bar charts, pie charts, histograms, pictograms
Simple annotated cross-sections 
Sketch sections
Tabular presentation of data 
Land-use maps 
NB: these methods of presentation may be used in the written examination

Thematic Studies

Candidates are required to study five themes: Earthquakes and Volcanoes, Weather and Climate, Rivers and Coasts, Population and Settlement, Transport and Industry. Candidates are expected to study recent examples (i.e. within their lifetimes), some of which reflect variations in levels of global economic development. They must study examples of either an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, and an economic activity both in a developed and a developing country. In addition, candidates need detailed understanding of a flood event from anywhere in the world, together with a housing development and a transport project (both either planned or completed), where environmental issues have been considered.

Assessment details

Assessment Objectives
Candidates should develop their knowledge and understanding of:

  • AO1 use geographical enquiry skills when developing knowledge and understanding of places, people, patterns and processes, environmental awareness and sustainable development;
  • AO2 ask geographical questions and undertake enquiries inside and outside the classroom about places, people and environments;
  • AO3 analyse evidence, make decisions and evaluate information, ideas and opinions;
  • AO4 use skills specific to geography, including those of fieldwork and map work;
  • AO5 draw on many different sources and resources, such as maps and atlases, photographs and written and visual materials, including the use of ICT.


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