Junior Cert geography: Absence of question on climate change doesn’t rain on students

Skills-based questions gave stronger candidates a chance to shine

Map-reading skills were tested in today’s Junior Cert geography exam. Photograph: iStock

Map-reading skills were tested in today’s Junior Cert geography exam. Photograph: iStock


A surprising lack of topical questions on this year’s Junior Cert higher level geography exam did not take away from the accessibility of the paper, say teachers.

Laura O’Sullivan, TUI representative and a teacher at Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, Bantry, West Cork, said that the paper was “very straightforward and, for students who had revised, they will not have had any major difficulty.”

Ms O’Sullivan said that she might have expected more questions about current news events.

“There was nothing in either the higher or ordinary level papers on Brexit or climate change - perhaps this is because Brexit was up in the air when the paper was being put together - but I thought there might be something on climate change, which a lot of students would have liked.”

A short question on historic settlement was nicely done, said Ms O’Sullivan. “It gave photos of settlements and ruins and asked candidates to mention the period it came from. I liked this twist and it was still very accessible for higher level candidates.”

Ms O’Sullivan praised the paper for including skills-based questions which gave stronger candidates a chance to shine. “They might get a table or a graph and they have to be able to read it, so they’re applying their skills, not just knowledge.”

Students at higher and ordinary level answered questions about a map of Templemore, Co Tipperary. Crucially, the map and the aerial photo were of high quality, said Ms O’Sullivan.

“Even in the age of Google maps, understanding maps is still an important skill - whether your phone dies or loses coverage, or you’re involved in outdoor life and pursuits, or going hiking, or you just don’t want to build you home on a floodplain.”


The ordinary level paper was very accessible and the questions were nicely scaffolded, said Ms O’Sullivan.

“There were lots of diagrams which made it less daunting for the ordinnary level candidate.

“The longer questions were straightforward and they did a nice job telling students how much information they needed across the various different questions.

“Question three, which referred to an earthquake in Mexico last September, was a nice way to open the paper, although some students will may have found a related question on emergency aid a little challenging.”

Ms O’Sullivan described the ordinary level paper as straightforward with no questions that were unapproachable.

“Question 11 was somewhat topical in that it looked at internet access in Irish households, and students were asking to analyse a graph here. Overall , it was a fair and wide-ranging paper with lots of choice for students,” she said.

Try this at home:

Cities have different functional zones including:

- The Central Business District

- Residential

- Industrial

- Shopping

- Open space.

Choose any three of the functional zones named above and for each one explain why it is located where it is, in a city that you have studied

(From Junior Cert geography, higher level)