Leaving Cert geography: Brexit features in paper with ‘no surprises’

Strong emphasis on environmental issues in exam with ‘nice mix of topics’

There was a strong emphasis on environmental issues in this year’s Leaving Cert higher level paper and many of students’ favourite topics cropped up.

Michael Doran, a geography teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said it was an "excellent" paper.

“There were a few nice twists on old questions and it was great to see the subject is emphasising environmental challenges and issues,” he said.

Luke Saunders, a geography teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Enniscrone, Co Sligo, said that there were no surprises on a paper that will have put students at ease.

“All three options in the physical geography section had had no surprises for any student who had looked at previous years papers,” said Mr Saunders, founder of Studyclix.ie.

He said section three - the optional section of the paper - required students to write a longer essay which carries 80 marks.

“Today’s paper, particularly the geoecology option, would have had questions that most students would be well prepared for.”

There was a very good mix of short questions, said Mr Doran. “Question four on isostatic processes might have challenged some students, but overall the questions in this section were very fair.”

Good mix

In the physical geography section, there was also a good mix of topics.

“Plate tectonics appeared in two essay questions. Environmental issues appeared in 2C, with a nice question on how human activity impacts on surface processes.”

He said the regional geography questions were very approachable.

“Regional geography is a very broad section and a lot of students can feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of topics to be covered.

“However, there was a superb selection of fair questions here. Question 4C, on how borders affect different cultural groups, and Question 5C on population distribution across the European region, were interesting and contemporary themes to explore.”

In the electives section, students will have liked a question on EU policy in Ireland, Mr Doran said.

“Environmental issues featured again, in Question 8C, with a nice question on renewable energy. For the first time in years, a question on multinational corporations did not appear in the economic elective.

“A nice question on the global economy did appear, however, which would have tested students to use this information in a different way.

Excellent choice

He added that there was excellent choice in the human elective, with some questions on changing land use in cites, migration and overpopulation.

Students were also asked questions on how Brexit might impact on Ireland and the European Union.

“Overall there was nothing in today’s higher geography paper that would throw any student who had familiarised themselves with previous years papers,” said Mr Saunders.

“Students had plenty of choice in all sections any reports I have heard back from students are resoundingly positive.”

Try this at home:

Examine the impact of colonialism on a developing economy that you have studied. Explain how any one European Union policy has influenced the Irish economy.

- From Leaving Cert geography, higher level

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