AQA GCSE Geography Pre-release and literacy levels

Having read the AQA GCSE Geography Pre-release I was quite surprised at the complexity and structure of the language. I thought it would be useful to put together some flash cards to support learning the key terms used in the document for sharing with Internet Geography Homework Plus subscribers. As I started putting the list of keywords together it quickly occurred to me that this would be quite a big job.

According to the exam board (see the Pre-release FAQ posted by Rob Chambers in the fantastic AQA GCSE Geography Facebook group), the text is age appropriate. Having pulled together a considerable list of keywords, I was less sure of this.

So, I decided to copy and paste the text into the University of Nottingham’s SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledegook) calculator. Once I had the SMOG score for the text I compared it, using the linked resources, to get an idea of text reading levels.

These average scores for newspaper editorials:

The Sun: under 14
The Daily Express: under 16
The Telegraph and The Guardian: over 17

Alternatively, it may be helpful to relate this readability score to levels in the National Adult Literacy Standards. As a rough indication:

• 9 –10 = approx. Entry Level 3;

• 11–12 = approx. Level 1; and

• 14 –15 = approx. Level 2.

Before I reveal the score for the AQA pre-release it is important to note that this system is far from an exact science and a readability test should only be taken as one indicator among many for the suitability of a text. Also, we should accept that the inclusion of a number of pharmaceutic terms are using in figure 1).

Below is a screenshot showing the results of the SMOG test on the AQA GCSE Geography Pre-release.

SMOG Test for AQA GCSE Geography Pre-release
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SMOG Test for AQA GCSE Geography Pre-release


What this certainly reinforces is the need to support students in being able to access the text.

If you have access to a more reliable test it would be great to hear from you.

It might be worth bookmarking this page for when you write your exam analysis in the summer.



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