Wide-ranging with fair share of twists and turns


LEAVING CERT GEOGRAPHY HIGHER AND ORDINARY:THE EURO crisis hit the Leaving Cert yesterday as students were asked to explain the problem to examiners of the higher-level geography paper.

Almost half of all Leaving Cert students took geography at higher or ordinary level yesterday, and most reported satisfaction with the paper.

“This exam tested topics from all over the syllabus, which is the right approach,” said Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland subject convenor Jimmy Staunton. “The short questions were a little more involved than in the past, but that has been the trend of recent years and the students were prepared for it.”

Michael Doran, geography teacher at the Institute of Education, also welcomed the comprehensive spread of the questions, but said the paper had its fair share of twists and turns.

“Students found the regional geography section challenging, as the questions were more specific than in previous years. The elective section also saw the examiner depart from the usual treatment of regular topics, the question on European Union policy and its influence on regional development required very specific knowledge,” said Doran.

The popular geo-ecology option also featured a slight departure from the norm. “The examiner introduced a twist on the usual question of biomes; examining how three human activities impact on biomes,” said Doran.

Students were asked a series of short questions on physical geography including volcanoes, plate tectonics, satellite reading and ordnance survey.

There were longer sections on trade and economics, the euro crisis, greenhouse gases and geographical history. There were also several map-reading and graph-analysis exercises.

Geography is one of the top elective subjects on the Leaving Cert curriculum. More than 26,000 students were expected to sit the exam. There is almost equal participation of male and female students in the subject.

A new geography syllabus was introduced in 2006. “The new syllabus found its feet in yesterday’s exam,” said Staunton, who teaches at Sligo Grammar School, where 80 students sat yesterday’s paper.

“The course reflects the world we live in, examining European policy, transport, trade, the developing world, the influence of multinational companies. It’s very current and I think that’s why it remains so popular.Almost 4,000 students sat the exam at ordinary level. It went “as expected”.


European Union policy:Examine how European Union policy influences regional development in Ireland.

Multinational companies:Examine how corporate strategies influence the opening and the closing of branch plants of one multinational company that you have studied.

Conflict of interest:Examine how conflict may develop between economic interests and environmental interests, with reference to example(s) that you have studied.

Developing world: Examine the role that national debt, fair trade and land ownership patterns play in the economic development of developing countries.

Rain and water:Examine the impact of rainfall on agriculture and on domestic water supplies.