Exam Times – Geography


Jim Carberry, who has been teaching Geography in The Institute of Education since 1998, explains why students who prepare well get the high grades…



Plan your study:

  • Take control of your study as your success can be assisted by an organised approach. Don’t blame anyone else. You should know what is involved. Get the past papers and study the structure of the exam.
  • At least 80% of your time as a student will be spent on private study so it is essential for you to acquire the skills which enable you to study effectively.

Establish targets:

  • Plan reasonable targets which you can achieve in each study session e.g. write out 15 SRPs [significant relevant points] on your selected topic

Focus on essentials:

Try to focus on examination topics that are examined every year. In Leaving Cert Geography some of these topics are:

  • Core unit 1: landform development; plate tectonics; human interaction
  • Core unit 2: economic activities in an Irish region; economic activities in a European region; economic activities in a
  • Continental/Sub-Continental region
  • Economic Elective: impact of EU policies on Ireland; Multinational Companies

Select keywords and phrases:

  • When you read your notes on a topic, select the key words or phrases which will help you to remember what the topic is about
  • Make a topic summary by placing the core theme or topic title in the centre then draw lines from the centre and write sub-themes at the end of the lines. Along each line write the key words or phrases linked to the sub-theme

Practise skills and techniques:

  • The first part of most questions requires the drawing of sketch maps or reading statistics or drawing graphs. These cannot be learned by merely seeing examples or reading about them. It is essential to practise drawing sketch maps etc

Prepare a Revision Programme:

  • List the topics that are examined.
  • Go through the list and identify which topics you feel the need to concentrate on.
  • Don’t spend valuable time on the topics you already know and can do. It makes you feel good but does not move you forward.
  • Cover all the major topics – don’t try to predict what will be examined
  • Don’t neglect Section 1 [the short questions]. Attempt all the past papers in this section and practice the required skills e.g. map reading, reading weather maps etc
  • In recent years the short questions have required more information to obtain full marks
  • In Section 1, some of the questions will come from Core Unit 1 [Physical Environment] and Core Unit 2 [Regional Geography] so a detailed study is required.

Revision Techniques:

  • Practice answering examination questions from past papers. Time yourself and see if you can write an answer in the time which the examination will allow you.
  • Remember that the 30 mark parts of the question should have 15 SRPs [no more!]
  • Ask your teacher to correct your work or check it yourself using your class notes

Common Errors

  • Students fail to answer the questions as they are asked.
  • Time is wasted on writing plans which are then ignored.
  • There is a failure to concentrate on the main theme of the question.
  • Some students write over-long introductions.
  • Key instructions e.g. ‘explain’, ‘account for’ are ignored.
  • Specific examples are not given or are imprecise.
  • Five full questions are not answered.

Online Resources

Physical Geography: These three websites are very useful for Core Unit 1.

Regional Geography: This website has up to date information for Core Unit 2 (info on the Irish and European economy in particular).

Full Supplement Download

Published on Thursday, 27th February, this supplement focuses on Leaving Certificate Geography.

Download Geography Supplement (4.39 MB)