Exam Success

Exam Success

A very important part of preparing for success in IB Geography is knowing the exam. Having a clear understanding of its structure and your responses will be marked will help you to achieve your potential.

Paper Information

Exam paperDurationFormatTopicsWeightingTotal Marks
Paper 2 (SL/HL Core)1 hour 15 minutesStructured question and one essayAll

40 SL

25 HL


Paper 2 is divided into three sections

Section A

This includes three questions

Q1 - Population Change - Structured questions

Q2 - Climate Change - Vulnerability and Resilience - Structured questions

Q3 - Resource Consumption and Security - Structured questions





Section B Q4 - Infographic - Structured questions with one 6 or 3+3 mark evaluation question10
Section CQ5 - Essay - Write one essay from a choice of two10

Exam Questions

Interpreting questions correctly is sometimes a challenge in geography exams and student new to Geography find this difficult. In every geography question there are two important parts. The command word and the subject. The command word informs you how you should frame and structure your response. If you miss it or misinterpret it you will not be awarded the marks. The subject of of the question refers to content. A common mistake is when students bias their writing towards the content and neglect the command word.

Common command words in Paper 2






Say what you see, break down in order to develop the structure or trends

Give a correct factor, concept, data, answer

Give a brief account or summary

Give a brief outline of a factor, concept, data, answer





Give a detailed account, to show reasons or causes, suggest reasons and key processes that develop why and how.

Propose a solution or reason or argument or any other other possible answer






To what extent

Offer a considered  and balanced review that will show a range of perspectives and viewpoints. Personal judgement is required supported by empirical evidence.

Make an appraisal of the strengths and limitation, opportunities and challenges. Personal Judgement is required with support of empirical evidence.


Consider the merits and alternatives arguments or concepts relating to given statement, concept or idea. Personal judgement is required with support of empirical evidence.


Assessment Objectives (AOs)

AOs are important for two reasons. Firstly they represent the learning objectives than run through the IB geography course. Secondly they inform the way examiners will mark your responses. Geography responses are not marked on the basis of the number of valid and correct points or ideas you present in a response. Your marks are allocating according to AO being met. There are three AOs in IB Geography.

Assessment Objectives

Assessment ObjectiveDescription


Knowledge and understanding - found in part (a) in questions 1-4

This AO requires you to demonstrate knowledge and understanding. This may mean technical vocabulary. For example, 'State one factor that leads to mega-city growth'

Alternatively it could require a skill-based response. For example 'Briefly describe the pattern in the map'


Application and Analysis - found in parts (b-d) in question 1-3 and parts (a-b) in question 4

This AO requires responses to apply knowledge and understanding to specific content area. For example, 'State and explain on factor that leads to mega-city growth'


Synthesis and Evaluation - found in the final part of question 4 and question 5 -essay

This AO requires responses to organise a range of geographic ideas, concepts, case studies and evidence to provide a balanced personal judgement and evaluation. For example, 'To what extent do you agree that the challenges of mega-city growth outweigh the opportunities'
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