Leaving Cert Geography: Students thrown by unfamiliar terms

Questions contained new variations on old themes


Some students may have been thrown by unfamiliar terms on this year’s higher level geography paper, according to Valerie Redmond, a teacher at Presentation Secondary in Wexford.

Ms Redmond said that some of the short questions, including one on Barchan dunes, would have been difficult for many students, while an “economically-focused” question would also have challenged those students who had focused on the human environment for their elective. Students are required to answer 10 out of 12 short questions.

“In the longer questions, one focused on the water table but this is not directly covered on the course,” said Ms Redmond. “Question six, on EU expanison, might have throwh some students. These were relatively small things, but for some students - especially those in the middleground - it can make the difference between a H1, H2 or H3. That said, students found that, overall, the paper was fair and largely predictable, but they were relieved to see certain topics come up.”

Michael Doran, a geography teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said that the higher-level paper was “nicely balanced, with a good choice of questions. Although many of the key, traditional topics were asked, the questions contained new variations on the old themes.”

Mr Doran said that the physical geography section contained a good choice of questions and that studdents who had studied past exam papers would have been very happy with this section.

“On regional geography, there was a good mix of questions. The spectre of Brexit hung over one of the questions, as it asked about the challenges facing the future EU expansion, relating to political union, economic union and sovereignty. In the economic elective, students might have been disappointed that one of the regular favourites, EU policy in Ireland, was not asked. Other key topics such as economy, the environment and multinational corporations did appear though. In the human elective question, a question about how trends in migration are impacting on migration policy in Europe showed how the subject is being related to the present day.”


Discuss the potential challenges facing the future development of the European Union with reference to factors such as political union, economic union and sovereignty.