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IB Geography IA - Some Golden Tips & Trick 🌟

Get ahead of the game with this ultimate guide to acing your IB Geography IA. Learn insider tips and tricks to nail your IB exams and impress your examiner!

IB Geography IA - Some Golden Tips & Trick 🌟

Table of content

Ib geography ia criteria breakdown to make things easy, overview of the ib geography ia criteria: what belongs where, fieldwork question & geo context (criterion a), method(s) of investigation (criterion b), quality of information (criterion c), written analysis (criterion d), conclusion (criterion e), evaluation (criterion f), types of data sources you need to keep a check on, primary data, secondary data, what to do and what not to, sum up your ib geography ia with a bang, the secret ro setting your hypothesis the right way, hypothesis in the introduction, hypothesis in the conclusion, hypothesis in method of investigation, the power of the right resource.

To ace the IA, your essay needs to be outstanding, and we're here with a guide to help you do that.

The IB Geography IA is a  2500-word  empirical report based on primary data conducted on a regional scale. It mainly concentrates on a single topic from the curriculum.

There is a possibility that your entire class will research a related study; therefore, you must understand what distinguishes a great essay from a bad one!

The IA in Geography accounts for  20% in HL  and  25% in SL  of your overall IB mark.

Obviously, how you deliver in this area of IB determines whether you obtain the score sum you desire. In this IB geography IA guide, we'll go over the specific places where students end up losing scores, a structural breakdown of each section of the IA, and much more, so you can write an IA in Geography that is unique and use this guide to help learn critical pointers that can make-or-break your essay!

Things we'll be covering in this IB Geography IA guide are

If you need an all-in-one HL package, we have the right thing for you: Our exclusive  IB Geography HL Notes . This magic bomb constitutes the deadliest ingredients to elevate your essay, as it brings along some of its craziest resources! Could it get any better?

This table explains how your IB Geography IA will be marked and which sections will be given due importance based on the marks allotted to each, thus being called the criteria on which you will be drawn. For reference, we've tagged each criterion from  A to F.

It is essential to know that your Geography IA essay can be, at most, the word limit of  2,500 . Hence, we have given a rough idea of how many words can be dedicated to each criterion. Of course, this estimate is flexible, and you can adjust it as you like.

A criterion-wise detail of what plays an important role, how to structure it all, and how much efforts need to be put into each. If you understand this part (and adhere to it), nothing can stop your IA from breaking records!

The table might look intimidating, but we're here to break it down. Here we break down the criteria based on what to cover in each and how to ace this baby!

We have also curated a premium collection of IB Geography resources IB Geography HL , IB Geography SL  help you get a gist of an ideal Geography IA essay, so take advantage of them.

Let us get started with the criteria briefs now.

Your fieldwork question guides your empirical research. The question should be targeted, suitable, and phrased as a subject that can be addressed on the ground by collecting relevant primary data. If applicable, you can give a quick preliminary assessment or forecast in response to the fieldwork question. This prognosis might also be expressed as a hypothesis.

Here, you have to include a short statement on the geographic setting, describing the why and where of the fieldwork inquiry that will be conducted. This could also comprise pertinent geographical, environmental, and demographic variables and any observational data, notions, or traits. To convey the spatial aspect (which is extremely important), a map/blueprint of the study region and the places used throughout the fieldwork inquiry is required.

You also have to identify which curriculum aspects the research corresponds to, the geographical investigation subject or sub-topic in the curriculum and if the study would be from the alternative themes, central theme, or HL continuation. It might have two or even more different subjects or themes.

This criterion evaluates the fieldwork's emphasis and geographic context and the degree to which the connection between both the fieldwork inquiry and the geographic context is clearly explained. The fieldwork question ought to be geographically specified.

How to Get a 3

  • The relationship between the field research question and the relevant syllabus subject, course materials, or geographic concept should be thoroughly explained.
  • The connection to spatial/area theory should enable the development of hypotheses and forecasts.
  • The fieldwork inquiry should be geographical and concentrated, explicitly defining a specific area and enabling primary data analysis within the internal assessment's constraints.
  • More than one location-specific map should be shown, each following mapping norms and providing concrete understanding and specifics about the research site.

In this section, you need to explain the method(s) you utilized to gather data. When applicable, the explanation may describe the tools used, polling methodology, time, place, and conditions of data gathering. The method(s) employed should be validated and, therefore, must facilitate the production of an adequate amount and quality of primary data to answer the fieldwork inquiry.

This parameter evaluates the explanation, rationale, and applicability of the technique or procedures used to examine the specified inquiry, mainly polling and mapping methods and secondary or primary data gathering as applicable.

  • The files and knowledge-gathering method(s) need to be explained, together with an explanation as to how the combination of this information obtained relates to the concept, inquiry posed, or hypotheses for the IA.
  • For brownie points, you may also provide statistical tests you conducted.
  • The technique(s), data-collecting tools, and sample preparation procedures must be appropriately applied.
  • The essay has to lead to reliable and high-quality primary data to sustain a statistical and qualitative approach.

Here, you must use the best suitable approaches to handle and present the material you have gathered. These strategies would be the most successful means of describing the data collected, and they ought to be used effectively. Test statistics (with posterior probability), charts, infographics, mappings, labelled illustrations, grids, and ground drawings are some methods that may be used based on the type of your fieldwork inquiry.

It would help if you also considered the geographical context, the facts gathered, and the treatment and presentation of the content.

This parameter will consider the value of the research conducted, and its appropriateness for interpretation in objective criteria D. It also believes if the data segment and structure are adequate if it employs a good variety of methods and if the presentation adheres to IB's approved norms.

How to Get a 6

  • The research and sources of data gathered need to be closely related to the analysis or hypotheses posed.
  • The data needs to be of substantial volume and nature to facilitate investigation or response to the leading question.
  • The most suitable strategies should be employed for displaying the statistical information acquired. Those strategies involve planning the flow of your essay well in time and creating an action plan based on how you will go about the primary research.
  • The maps, charts, infographics, and other graphics must adhere to the set of rules mentioned by the IB.

You need to analyze and make sense of the information you acquired in connection to the fieldwork inquiry in the written analysis to prove your understanding of the research. This involves identifying any themes or geographical patterns that emerge from the data. Efforts must be made to detect and justify any abnormalities when possible. This portion must include the handling and presentation of the subject and the literary evaluation.

This criterion evaluates the performance of the written analysis, focusing on the following:

  • linkages to the topic and hypotheses
  • Defined geographic semantic features
  • Data obtained, and
  • Graphical content utilized.

How to Get an 8

  • The written analysis has to employ descriptive and inferential statistical methodologies suitable for the evidence and the inquiry posed.
  • The themes, patterns, and data discovered, as well as any exceptions or anomalies, need to be discussed and related to the research topic, hypotheses, spatial theory, field site, and methodologies employed.
  • With little or no loopholes in the corroborating evidence, the textual analysis has to provide an answer to the posed topic/question.

The results of your fieldwork research should be summarised in conclusion. A precise, brief explanation must be provided in response to the fieldwork inquiry. Additionally, your results contradict the initial judgement or assumption you set at first.

This criterion evaluates your ability to synthesize the results of the fieldwork inquiry and come to a well-supported judgment.

How to Get a 2

  • The fieldwork inquiry needs to have a conclusive result backed by the research.

Here must go through your investigation approach, including how you gathered primary data. Consider any elements that could have influenced the information's accuracy, like preconceived views and unforeseeable external events like climate change. It would help if you also made clear and reasonable suggestions for how the study may be refined and expanded in the coming years.

This parameter evaluates your ability to assess the research technique by balancing the selected approach's merits and/or limitations and making recommendations for changes.

  • The most essential and suitable advantages and disadvantages should be discussed regarding data collecting techniques, field research objective design, data interpretation, and place selection.
  • Development recommendations need to be presented, as well as the possible consequences of these changes.

We all know the two types of data sources to be used in your IAs: Primary and Secondary. It is imperial to understand the role both of them play in your IB Geography IA topic.

If you need a comprehensive guide that covers all significant aspects of writing an IB essay, our  Free IB Notes  have you covered, so worry not!

This data must be derived from your independent field readings and research. Your IB geography IA topic must start with primary data, as your fieldwork must yield enough data to allow proper observation and understanding.

Collecting both qualitative and quantitative primary data may be required during your geographical fieldwork studies. Your goal and fieldwork inquiry should decide the sort of data gathered. Measurements are used to acquire quantitative data, which may then be analyzed employing numerical and other methods.

Qualitative data goes without quantification and is gathered via witnessing or subjective assessment. Qualitative data can be obtained, tagged, evaluated as needed, or presented as visuals or writing. Due to the apparent theoretical basis of qualitative data, there will be enough data for written analysis and conclusion.

One easy way to understand

Primary = First-hand data and information you collect.

This source entails collecting data from sources that have already been assembled in textual, numerical, or map format. Secondary data may be used to augment primary data, but it should only serve a minor role in the research. Secondary data sources ought to be cited to avoid plagiarism and penalty.

One easy way to understand:

Secondary = Second-hand data and information you obtain via published articles, journals, etc.

The smallest of things make the biggest of impacts. While most kids will overlook these details, we strongly suggest you take them into consideration:

  • Be careful to follow the instructions provided by the IB. The document has several brief remarks offer valuable insight into formatting your findings. You can find their updated guidelines right  here !
  • Specify why you chose this particular fieldwork inquiry to be conducted.
  • Address the research question with a concise, speculative verdict (which is your hypothesis) based on the geographic theory.
  • Indicate which section of the course your IA is relevant to.
  • Create a goal/critical topic with a conceptual and geographical framework.
  • Choosing acceptable hypotheses for the study is arguably the most significant component in delivering a good essay.
  • Develop a hypothesis that establishes a link between geographical features and potential causes since it is the easiest way to facilitate your investigation.
  • Describe the location of your fieldwork topic like a movie trailer. The assessor has yet to see the place you're describing in the essay, and your words and graphs are their only eyes. Don't be poetic and dramatic! Just be thorough and clear about what the location/area is like.
  • Add three maps that constitute the main factors: additional information, dimensions, and a north indicator.
  • Your IA is more about situating the study inside the framework of whatever you've learned and describing the inquiry's backdrop. In short, it is about the why and where, so remember to keep these 2 in mind.
  • Specify why you picked the volume and technique of sampling for your primary data source.
  • Make sure all maps and graphs feature labels on the sides and a heading and are incorporated into your work.
  • Demonstrate that you made an inquiry that resulted in reliable and high-quality data.
  • A lack of adequate data will prevent the need for high-quality analysis.
  • The IB expects you to select not the most appropriate data for your hypothesis but to also present it as most suitably and efficiently feasible.
  • Your IA ought to be analytical in nature. Sampling methods and statistical tests are some excellent techniques to demonstrate this.
  • Emphasize the significance of the correlations in your information regarding your hypothesis and research topic.
  • Any suggestions for improvement you give in criterion F must be feasible and realistic.
  • Appendices must only contain samples of items that were utilized or are illustrative of things that were used.
  • Pick 2 or 3 objectives to assist you in examining and resolving your research question.

Though the summing up is just 5 marks, the conclusion plays a significant role in summarizing your essay and making sense of everything. To make a final impression that sets a bar:

  • Return to your introduction to review your hypotheses and the setting where your research is taking place.
  • Make sure you clearly show what conclusions you can make from the information and how you researched it.
  • Take your time with getting overly detailed now; it will come later, but make sure you get your points through.

The final technique to improve your grades is to do a thorough evaluation. Several IB geographers make the mistake of just outlining the flaws in their inquiry. More is needed to get access to the highest rank of the marking criteria. Instead, emphasize both the good and potential negatives of your inquiry and offer strategies to enhance the validity and credibility of your findings.

A hypothesis might sound like a big and scary word that belongs to PhDs but trust us, it's not. While many of you might be familiar with the concept, we decided to dedicate a special section to it to polish up your assumption setting and how to do it the right way (because trust us, a well-set hypothesis is your gateway to scoring crazy marks quickly!).

Said a hypothesis is an informed assumption. It's just your analysis and estimate of the relationship between two set variables. It predicts the study's expected conclusion. In other words, it expresses your expectations for your geography IA's result.

  • It is crucial to remember the logic behind each action and decision taken in any inquiry component as part of the inquiry's objectives. This implies that it's critical to document all the conditions surrounding the question and any factors that could impact the data gathered. Minor elements such as the hour of the day, whether at the time of the survey, emergency plans, and unanticipated disasters that may affect the study or inquiry are all aspects to consider.
  • You can provide your hypothesis derived from data perception (rather than data collection), prior occurrences, or understanding of the problem under inquiry.
  • Either one null hypothesis or an alternative hypothesis (but never both) needs to be specified in the view. It is essential to note that the null hypothesis will always be the opposite of the true belief and thus be harmful.

Keeping the hypothesis established in your introduction while assessing the facts and figures is crucial. First, the gathered information should account for the factors listed in the view. The findings may determine whether the hypothesis will be accepted or dismissed. This is commonly conducted qualitatively and then quantitatively verified to provide a clear and comprehensive overview of the situation evaluated.

In your conclusion, make a remark regarding your hypothesis, saying if it was proved or disproved in your analysis. Imply the variable(s) in the model specify this and the statistical data supporting it. The conclusion should be brief. As a result, just the relevant facts should be used to justify your admissibility of the hypothesis.

You must give details of the approach used to obtain the information in your Geography IA essay. Criterion B (the method of investigation) of the assessment is comprised entirely of this. It contains, but is not restricted to, sample designing, data gathering procedures, discussion of results and analysis methodologies, as well as a draft of the data gathering survey questionnaire. The questionnaires should be labelled with a particular effort to justify the utilized variables.

Using resources like the web, guides, and your observations is essential, but not as much as your professors' feedback! Do not hesitate to ask your teacher any queries you might have. They are the best ones to steer you on the correct path and present you with additional IA resources. As a result, you can produce a more excellent IA and earn more stars!

Nail IB's resources are a goldmine if you want to crack your IB Geography IA with excellent scores. We have new blogs coming in every week that bring numerous tips and tricks to the table that are bound to help you get a head start on your essays, so remember to bookmark it right  here ! Your IA essays will be a cakewalk with our samples, guides, and many other resources.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the best ib geography study guide and notes for sl/hl.

International Baccalaureate (IB)


If you're an IB Geography SL/HL student in search of some extra help, you've come to the right place. Whether you're looking for IB Geography notes for a test on a single topic or cramming for the final IB Geography papers, this guide has all the information you need.

We created this IB Geography study guide using the best free and paid online materials for IB Geography and ordered the materials following the IB Geography SL/HL syllabus .


2022 IB Exam Changes Due to COVID-19

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the IB has decided to extend the adaptations which were put in place for 2021 to 2022. May 2022 IB assessments will have two routes, exam and non-exam, depending on which your school chooses. Currently the IB program plans to return to its usual assessment model in 2023. Stay up to date with the latest information on what this means for IB diplomas, course credit for IB classes, and more with our IB COVID-19 FAQ article .

How To Use This Article

If you want to study a specific topic, use the Command + F function on your keyboard to search this article for specific IB Geography resources. For example, if you hope to read about Population change, use Command + F to bring up the search function. Type in "Extreme Environments and it will bring up all of the study materials for that topic.

Unfortunately there aren’t many high quality free notes sites that reflect the curriculum changes made to IB Geography in 2019 . Because of that, we’ve compiled three types of resources to help you study: 

  • Notes and Activities: The comprehensive notes are generally 2–4 pages for each individual topic, and are useful if you want a summary or need a recap. Some resources also have video explanations. Some of the notes sites listed here include free notes, while others require a paid subscription. The subscription sites we listed here are sometimes used by schools, so before paying, ask your teacher to make sure you don’t already have a subscription for free through your class! On the other hand, the practice activities we linked to are totally free.
  • Case studies: These case studies for each topic are there to help you better understand that topic using specific real world examples.

If you're looking for summary material to help you study for the IB Geography papers, check out the notes with supporting video for each topic. These notes are brief and great for a quick refresher.

How To Use This Guide Throughout the School Year

Use this guide throughout the school year as a review for in-class quizzes if you need more help learning the material. You need to be mastering the topics throughout the school year and not just waiting to cram before the IB Geography papers.

The activities we list are great for practice during the year. Just click on the main link and use the menu on the right of the page to navigate to the specific topic you want to practice.

The Best Study Practices for IB Geography

Make sure you're practicing related IB Geography past paper questions as you learn each new subject. You can find free IB Geography HL and IB Geography SL past papers here . Also, if you're having difficulty understanding your in-class lesson, you should be reviewing the corresponding chapter in a textbook or this study guide.

Common Study Mistakes IB Geography Students Make

For IB Geography, there are lots of topics to master, so you can't fall behind. Common mistakes students make are:

#1: Trying to avoid the material you didn't learn in class. If you didn't understand it in class, you need to find more help whether through this article or tutoring.

#2: Only studying a week or two before the IB Geography papers. You will not be able to master all of the topics below in only a week or two (after all, the course is spread out over 1 to 2 years). Make sure you are learning the topics as they're taught to you in class, but you can use this article for support in learning the following topics. 


Part #1: Geographic Themes—60 Hours for SL, 90 Hours for HL

The IB Geography syllabus gives you seven options for study. If you're on the SL track, you'll need to master two subjects; if you're on the HL track, you'll need to master three.

Part #1: Geographic Themes

Option a: freshwater.

  • Comprehensive unit guide
  • Unit notes with video references
  • The 2010 Pakistan Floods
  • The Three Gorges Project in China
  • The Nile and the Mississippi
  • USA/Mexico water conflict (scroll down to bottom of the page)
  • Integrated Drainage Basin Management

Option B: Oceans and Coastal Margins

  • Comprehensive unit notes
  • 1997/1998 El Niño
  • Typhoon Haiyan case study
  • South China Sea conflict (scroll down to bottom of the page)
  • Bimini development case study
  • Oil spills case study

Option C: Extreme Environments

  • Uranium mining in Niger
  • Desertification in Morocco
  • Dust Bowl case study
  • Soil erosion and solutions
  • The Aral Sea
  • Acacia Project in Senegal (scroll down to the bottom of page)

Option D: Geophysical Hazards

  • Comprehensive notes
  • Montserrat volcano (scroll down to the bottom of page)
  • Fracking causes earthquakes (scroll down to the bottom of page)
  • Unit study flashcards
  • The Chernobyl disaster case study
  • Unit notes with video reference s
  • The 2010 Haiti earthquake
  • Anchorage, Alaska earthquake case study
  • Impact of climate change on vulnerable countries
  • Large scale action on climate change

Option E: Leisure, Tourism, and Sport

  • Leisure in China
  • Leisure in the United States
  • The NBA league in North America
  • London Olympics 2012
  • Rio Olympics 2016
  • Ecotourism in Kenya


Option F: Food and Health

  • Famine case study
  • Global life expectancy
  • Comprehensive list of case study topics

Option G: Urban Environments

  • Habitat for Humanity in Manila
  • Urban deindustrialization (scroll to the bottom of page)
  • Infrastructure growth (scroll to the bottom of the page)
  • Unit SlideShare notes
  • Redlining the New Deal
  • Phoenix, Arizona: The Least Sustainable City in the US


Part #2: SL and HL Core: Geographic Perspectives (Global Change) —70 Hours SL/HL

Since this is core knowledge, both SL and HL students will be tested over the following material.

Topic A: Population Distribution—Changing Population

  • Unit notes with video reference
  • Internal migration in Mongolia
  • Population distribution in China (scroll down to bottom of page)
  • Forced migration in Syria (scroll down to bottom of page)
  • Life expectancy in Japan

Topic B: Global Climate — Vulnerability and Resilience

  • List of potential case study topics
  • How climate change affects agriculture
  • Geoengineering

Topic C: Global Resource Consumption and Security

  • The rise of the global middle class
  • Illegal flows
  • Circular economy case study


Part #3: Geographic Perspectives: Global Interactions—HL Only, 60 Hours

If you're HL, you'll also be tested over the following three topics.

Topic A: Power, Places, and Networks

  • Global power players (bottom of page)
  • The narcotics trade
  • World's most isolated places
  • Multi-governmental organizations (European Union case study)

Topic B: Human Development and Diversity

  • Additional unit notes
  • Cambodian indigenous minorities fight tide of development
  • List of case studies with videos
  • Anti-immigration movements

Topic C: Global Risks and Resilience

  • Global supply chain risks
  • Comprehensive list of case studies with video


Part #4: Internal Assessment: SL and HL Fieldwork—20 Hours

In order to do well on the internal assessment, students have to meet the following criteria (which we've taken directly from the IB Geography syllabus):

#1: Students must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content #2: They must demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding #3: Students must demonstrate synthesis and evaluation #4: Students have to select, use, and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques

With that in mind, here are two study guides for internal assessments:

  • This guide walks you through each step of the Internal Assessment and provides guidance on how to structure your essay and what types of data you need to collect
  • This site includes sample cover pages, booklets that go over data collection, and even a PowerPoint introduction to the assignment


What's Next?

Learn more about IB Geography:

  • Every IB Geography Past Paper Available: Free and Official

Learn more about other IB Classes:

  • Every IB English Past Paper Available: Free and Official
  • Every IB Math Studies Past Paper Available: Free and Official
  • Every IB History Past Paper Available: Free and Official
  • Every IB Economics Past Paper Available: Free and Official

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Exam Strategy for IB Geography (HL/SL)

Jun 24, 2021 | IB subjects

how to write an ib geography essay

1. Contents of IB Geography

IB Geography has aims as following (according to IB O ):

  • develop an understanding of the dynamic interrelationships between people, places, spaces and the environment at different scales
  • develop a critical awareness and consider complexity thinking in the context of the nexus of geographic issues
  • understand and evaluate the need for planning and sustainable development through the management of resources at varying scales.

Students will acquire a variety of skills through this course, which students are expected to show in the final exam, including analytical thinking based on data and graphs , evaluation skills to discuss social issues , and application of geography knowledge .

Advises from IB graduates:

  • IB Geography doesn’t require you to have prior knowledge, to gain as much knowledge as history, and to calculate as much as economics. So, this subject is recommended for all students.
  • IB Geography is recommended for those who want to spend time on Group 4 (scientific) subjects instead of Group 3 subjects.

HL students cover the same topic as SL students, but the coverage is much broader than SL. Not only do HL students study one more “Geographic Theme” , but they also have three “HL Core Extension” topics to cover. So, HL students are expected to have more knowledge and a higher level of analytical thinking in the exam.

  • Essay questions require you to know case studies, so it’s better to prepare a case study for each topic.
  • It might be hard for some to understand HL Extension topics since they include economic and political aspects to look at.
  • It might be hard for those who are not too confident in their English because you will have to learn various topics.

1.3 Syllabus

Part 1: geographic themes.

Out of seven options, HL students study three of them and SL students study two .

  • Freshwater – drainage basins
  • Oceans and coastal margins
  • Extreme environments
  • Geophysical hazards
  • Leisure, tourism, and sport
  • Food and health
  • Urban environments

Part 2: SL and HL core

Through core topics, students study the foundation of geography to understand today’s social issues. The theme of this part is global changes from geographic perspectives.

  • Population distribution – changing population
  • Global climate – vulnerability and resilience
  • Global resource consumption and security

Part 2: HL core extension

HL students cover three additional units to broaden their perspectives by looking into global interactions .

  • Power, places, and networks
  • Human development and diversity
  • Global risks and resilience

2. Tips for IB Geography

Geography students will need a lot of work and time to master the subject. But once you know the criteria and how to study, you can prepare for in-class tests and exams efficiently. If you have any trouble studying the subject, don’t hesitate to ask teachers!

2.1 Grading Weight

2.2 how to study, follow the syllabus and summarize the points.

The syllabus not only guides you through what you’re going to learn over the 2 years but also tells you what examiners will ask you in tests and the final exam. So it’s best to summarize important points in each topic following the syllabus . That will help you not miss anything important.

Prepare case studies

Students are expected to answer questions using examples from specific regions or countries . So, it’s very important that you prepare case studies for each topic. Case studies can be found in the textbook for some topics, but not for all. So, do your own research to find a good case study. It is recommended to have case studies from your familiar places since it will most likely help you in expanding the discussion.

Understand command terms

Questions often start with a command term which tells you what examiners expect from you. So it’s best you know the meaning of each command term and practice answering questions.

Here are some examples of command terms:

  • Explain … Give an explanation on the subject in detail with reasons.
  • Compare … Compare two or more things or situations. Focus on similarities. Rather than explaining one thing more than the other, it’s better to spend the same amount of writing on each subject.
  • Discuss … Rather than drawing a conclusion of yes/no, explain the subject with different perspectives and argue the problems that occur for such differences.
  • Distinguish … Compare two or more things or situations. Focus on differences.
  • Evaluate … Explain both pros and cons of the subject, consider both sides, and draw a conclusion.

3. Tips for Final Exam

3.1 paper 1.

Students are asked based on part 1 “Geographic Themes”. HL students will choose and answer three questions based on what they’ve studied and SL students will answer two. Each question has a structured question (worth 10 marks) and an essay question (worth 10 marks) . There are two questions for each option, so you should choose the one that you’re comfortable with answering the essay question .

3.2 Paper 2

Students are asked questions based on part 2 “core” topics.

3.3 Paper 3

Only HL students have Paper 3 in the exam to assess their knowledge in “HL Core Extention” topics. Students answer one of the three essay questions. Each question has two-part as Part A is worth 12 marks and Part B is worth 16 marks. Students are expected to use case studies as examples and maps or diagrams where appropriate. To prepare for paper 3, you should get used to writing essays within a limited time by practicing with past papers.

4. Tips for IA and EE

Students carry out fieldwork for IA in Geography and submit a written report within 2500 words . Students need to spend about 20 hours on it, so it’s not going to be short or easy. For the choice of topic, students are supposed to select a region and a topic both related to one of the units that they’ve studied in Part 1, 2, or 3 (for HL).

For example, you can choose an area to measure wind speed, humidity, temperature, and light intensity, etc. to investigate its “Urban Environment (from option G in part 1)”. And you can carry out an analysis to find out which element is the most influential on the urban environment.

More advises are following:

Make your own graphs and pictures, and don’t forget to annotate!

It’s important to use graphs and pictures that you have created to bring originality to your IA. It’s also recommended to include a photo of you taking data in the methodology section to make it easy for examiners (your teacher) to follow. When you’re using pictures, don’t forget to put annotation with arrows or lines .

Check the criteria regularly!

Your IA is judged based on criteria. In other words, you can aim for a high score by following the criteria ! Make sure that if your teacher has specific styles, follow them. These are the criteria for IA in Geography:

  • Fieldwork question and geographic context – 3 marks
  • Methods of investigation – 3 marks
  • Quality and treatment of information collected – 6 marks
  • Written analysis – 8 marks
  • Conclusion – 2 marks
  • Evaluation – 3 marks

Listen to advices from your teacher!

You have only one chance to get feedback from your teacher based on the draft before submission. But, you can ask about your IA as many times as you want . So, make sure you go to your teacher when you are worried about your IA.

If you choose to write your EE in Geography, you will need to choose a topic from the syllabus and carry out the investigation at a local level . Fieldwork will add originality to your EE and will help you have a better chance of getting a high score. Make sure you write in a logical order by using headings (introduction, research question, hypothesis, research, analysis, conclusion, evaluation, etc) and don’t forget to cite your reference by using MLA format correctly .

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Structuring your Geography extended essay

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  • Geography extended essay assessment

There is no longer the need to add an abstract - so don't. Try not to put anything in footnotes - other than references (if that is the referencing approach you are taking). Do not put too much 'stuff' in appendices.

This should include:

  • the title of your extended essay
  • the research question
  • subject for which the essay is registered... Geography! (if a world studies essay also state the theme and the two subjects utilised)
  • your candidate code
  • the word count

There should be no candidate, supervisor, or school name on the title page, page headers, appendices or acknowledgment pages

Contents page

All the pages of your EE should be numbered and every graph and map such have a figure number and title. Use the contents page to list the page numbers of the major sections listed below and all of the figures in each section.


Here you need to identify and explain the research topic. The purpose and focus of the research needs to be clear.

This section must make it very clear to the examiner that your EE topic and research question in geographical. You must make it clear why your research questions is worth asking.

You should explore the scales applicable to your EE. You may discuss a global or regional issue at a local scale.


You need to make it clear that you have used an appropriate range of relevant source(s) and/or method(s) and that these have been selected in relation to the topic and research question.

You need to outline the major sources of secondary data, why you chose to use them and how much you trust the accuracy of the data.

For primary data collection you need to explain the methods used, much like you would have done for your Internal Assessment.

This is the main discussion part of your EE. It can be further broken down with sub-headings. You must be analysing and not just describing. Your analysis must be clearly linked to your research question.

Maps and graphs should be incorporated into your discussion, where they are appropriate. You should not have a separate section for your graphs.

You should develop a focused and reasoned argument.

You should be using geographical terminology and concepts accurately and consistently, effectively demonstrating your knowledge and understanding.

Any labelling should contain the minimum information to ensure the examiner understands the significance of the map, chart, diagram or illustration. It must not include commentary, as this will be considered as part of the essay discussion and thus included in the word count.

The use of photographs and other images is acceptable only if they are captioned and/or annotated and are used to illustrate a specific point made in the extended essay.

This conclusion much be based on your argument and the evidence you have presented. This is not the section to be introducing new content or ideas.


You should have a consistent system of academic referencing throughout your EE. You should have in-text citations. Your bibliography should be a list of all the sources referenced by your in-text citations listed alphabetically by author.

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Geography Extended Essay: Definition, Rubric, And Topics for IB

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by  Antony W

July 18, 2022

how to write an ib geography essay

The IB program requires you to write a 4,000-word extended essay on any subject of your choice. So if you’ve picked Geography as your focus area, you’ll find this guide incredibly helpful.

This guide to Geography extended essay covers the following:

  • Choice of topic
  • Treatment of your selected topic and
  • The assessment criteria

What’s Geography Extended Essay? 

An extended essay in Geography provide students the opportunity to employ a wide variety of abilities and develops an original and in-depth geographic investigation. Spatial focus as well as the application of geographical theories characterize the length of this assignment.

Choosing a Geography Extended Essay Topic

One thing you have to get right before you start writing an extended essay in Geography is topic selection.

1. Pick a Narrow, Focused Topic

The topic you choose should have a geographical focus because you’ll have to ensure the research topic guides you down a route that uses acceptable geographical materials and fosters the application of pertinent geographical concepts, theories, or ideas.  

To be abundantly clear, the topic you choose should not be excessively broad because essays written on broad topics are rarely successful.

Make your topic narrowly targeted to promote in-depth investigation as opposed to a broad one. Additionally, it is essential that you establish the geographical background of the essay early on.

2. Base Your Topic on Local Research

Investigations conducted on a local basis often receive the best grades. This restricted emphasis discourages an excessive dependence on existing information and promotes original research.

Extended essays written on topics known and accessible to the student have a larger probability of success due to the student’s stronger personal connection, which stimulates more in-depth research.

3. Choose a Topic that Encourages Original Research

The cornerstone of a successful geography extended essay is a robust technique that includes the collecting of high-quality facts.

Good data allows the IB learner to conduct the sort of in-depth examination that distinguishes the finest works. It’s unlikely that an essay relying solely on published textbooks will receive a high grade.

How to Treat Your Geography EE Topic

You don’t want to view a geography extended essay as merely an extended piece of fieldwork.

Although there may be parallels in technique, the extended essay doesn’t have to lay a heavy focus on original field data. In other words, you can rely on already existing research ideas on previously published data to get the work done.

When researching the topic you’ve selected, pay more attention on written analysis, interpretation, and assessment, as well as the development of an argument rather than data collection and processing procedures.  

Supporting Your Geography Extended Essay

A geography extended essay must include proper ways for showing information or data. You should include diagrams, sketch maps, tables, and graphs, making sure you acknowledge their origin if you draw them from other sources. 

We strongly recommend the use of maps at the beginning to provide a clear geographical backdrop for the inquiry. Every map must provide an indication of direction and size, as well as a key.

  • As supporting data, the usage of sketch maps and labeled or annotated diagrams is strongly encouraged.
  • You can use computer-generated maps provided you identify the computer software used.
  • Hand-drawn maps should be neat and legible, with appropriate use of color shading, a scale, and a key.
  • If you include photographs in your work, make sure they’re integral to the text and not just decorative.

IB Geography Extended Essay Assessment Criteria Explained

The following is the assessment criteria used for the extended essay in Geography:

Criterion A: Research Question

The research question must be specific, relevant to the topic of geography, provide a geographical context for the essay, and inspire an inquisitive approach.

Many effective essays in geography explore the research issue through the formation of one or more hypotheses. If you include a hypothesis in your work, make sure it’s well constructed, testable, grounded in geographical theory, and incorporate proper investigation channels.

Criterion B: Introduction

It is essential to contextualize the study issue geographically and theoretically. Therefore, the introduction should define the scope and location of the inquiry and illustrate the relevance of the issue to existing geographical knowledge and theory.

There should be an explanation of why you chose the issue and why it merits examination. The introduction of the essay should be simple and straightforward.

Criterion C: Investigation

It is essential that the inquiry utilize a variety of data sources, including those specified in the “Treatment of the issue” section. The materials you pick for the essay must be pertinent to the subject and give the evidence that will support your argument.

The essay must employ adequate qualitative and quantitative data and/or information. For instance, questionnaires must have enough respondents for the results to be reliable.

Adopting a technique that begins with the gathering and selection of relevant material leads to a methodical analysis with legitimate results, interpretation, and conclusions, and concludes with a critical review of the evidence and the strategy used is the correct essay planning.

Criterion D: Knowledge of the Topic

A successful essay requires knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical basis and an awareness of the academic setting.

Using both primary and secondary sources , you should integrate their own ideas with current geographical theory to accomplish this.

Criterion E: Reasoned Argument

The argument can be personal, but it must also be rational and well balanced. By using proper maps, diagrams, drawings, pictures, and charts/graphs, you can convey evidence in graphical as well as textual format.

If and where applicable, the argument you present should give evidence that leads to the acceptance or rejection of the initial hypothesis. Avoid prejudice in the context of an issue, dispute, or problem inquiry.

Criterion F: Application Analysis & Skill Evaluation

The majority of the evidence supplied to support an argument in a geography extended essay comes from data analysis. This necessitates the application of proper analytical procedures and tests of significance.

The use of interaction and gravity models, network analysis, correlation techniques, dispersion measurements, sampling procedures, and standard error estimates are among the legitimate tools distinctive of geographical investigation.

When analyzing qualitative data, you must employ the right analytic procedures. Your research should demonstrate an understanding of the data’s legitimacy, validity, and limits, as well as the methodologies employed.

It is possible that the outcomes of the study are surprising or do not appear to conform to prevailing trends. This might lead to the absence of data. Even if that’s the case, the essay must nonetheless include a critical examination and evaluation of the material presented.

Criterion G: Language Selection

This criterion examines whether you’ve utilized Geographical terminology and language correctly and consistently throughout the essay.

It is essential to adopt a style that is impartial, avoids long personal assertions and viewpoints, and conveys geographical facts and concepts clearly and precisely.

Criterion H: Conclusion

The conclusion should include a summary of the investigation’s conclusions and quickly recap the pertinent evidence. If and where applicable, you should indicate which hypotheses have been accepted or rejected – and give an explanation. 

The conclusion of your essay should examine the adequacy of the approach and identify any defects or constraints in the investigational procedure.

The conclusion should not be an emotional personal remark about a topic, dispute, or problem, nor should it bring new facts not presented throughout the argument.

Criterion I: Formal Presentation

This criterion addresses the extent to which the essay complies with academic norms about the format of research papers. It is inappropriate to offer an essay without a bibliography or citations.

Essays that remove one of the required extended essay outline get a rating of no higher than good, and those that omit two of them get a rating of subpar.

All graphic material mentioned in the body of the article (maps, pictures, field drawings, charts, and so forth) should be at the appropriate locations, not at the conclusion or in appendices. It should be well organized and utilized to complement the textual material and clarify explanations.

Big data tables, published large maps, transcripts of interviews, and lengthy series of computations go to the appendices. It is not necessary to add field notes as an appendix, but you can include at least one completed questionnaire form.

You need to cite source of any data, diagrams, graphs, charts, tables, and pictures where feasible.

Criterion J: Abstract

The abstract should clearly express the research topic, describe how you conducted the study, the techniques employed, and the types of data collected.

Also, it should provide a concise summary of the findings as stated in the conclusion.

Criterion K: Holistic Judgement

For holistic judgment, you need to make sure your Geography extended essay reflects the following characteristics:

  • Intellectual initiative: You can demonstrate this by creating a hard research subject, applying unique or imaginative techniques of data collecting and data analysis, and generating an original work.
  • Understand the topic’s theoretical context and maintain it as the focus of the inquiry.
  • Utilize introspection in the construction of your argument and assessment of your writing.
  • Pick and employ inventive illustrative ways
  • Overcome difficulties that emerge
  • Modify views based on fresh facts.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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IB Geography EE examples

Filter exemplars, how has the construction of masianokeng lifestyle shopping centre impacted the lives of masianokeng community and other neighboring communities, to what extent is frankfurt involved in sustainable urban development, analyzing the areas of riedberg and praunheim, want to get full marks for your ee allow us to review it for you 🎯, to what extent do socio-economic factors, in particular, accessibility, land costs, geographical location, and availability of resources, influence the location of industries in the gdansk metropolitan area, to what extent can models and concepts described in the geography of transport systems by jean-paul rodrigue explain the relatively low traffic numbers at mostar international airport, flooding in the sumas prairie: to what extent is the sumas prairie at risk of a flood with magnitude of the 2021 november event, fast track your coursework with mark schemes moderated by ib examiners. upgrade now 🚀, to what extent can the mangroves on st.john’s island benefit from restoration techniques used in other locations in singapore, to what extent can the increase in crime through ashaier divisions in the city of hebron from 2014 to 2021 be attributed to socioeconomic and geographical concentrated disparities, to what extent have the smart initiatives implemented in punggol has enhanced the liveability of its residents, “to what extent can ecotourism at the can gio mangrove biosphere reserve, ho chi minh city,vietnam be considered successful”, spatio-temporal analysis of high-risk dengue clusters in bedok and jurong areas of singapore, to what extent does mountain biking affect the ecological health of mount fromme, to what extent does the standard of living within nur-sultan differentiate between the neighborhoods esil and baikonur in 2021, to what extent did transportation time, effect x gymnasium’s students’ academic performance, during the school year of 2020-21, before quarantine, how has tourism economically and environmentally affected the community of ‘muela, in what ways is greening the areas of warsaw a sustainable way of improving the standard of life in the city, to what extent does the life expectancy, education, and gross national income (gni) per capita influence the effectiveness of healthcare services in maseru, lesotho during the covid-19 pandemic, to what extent is traffic congestion a problem in maseru cbd, the effect of covid-19 on the tourism income of athens, to what extent are apartment prices affected by the quality of public services in different districts of lodz, to what extent has air pollution from the transportation sector decreased between 2005 and 2017 in paris, france due to the implementation of mitigation strategies for global climate change, how has the revitalization of jurong lake gardens improved the quality of life of local residents and visitors, to what extent has south africa’s agrarian land reform programme been successful at promoting socio-economic development within the country’s agricultural sector, how does the upper course of the savegre river influence the local temperature (micro-climate) during the month of january, contemporary study of the influence of the education and employment of women on the fertility rates in singapore, the classification of dulwich college singapore’s microclimate: an inquiry into the institution’s degree of urban and nature reserve microclimatic character.


Tips for IB Geography (SL/HL)

Maya Saldanha

IB Geography was definitely my favourite subject! Its interdisciplinary nature was fascinating to explore, and I learnt so many new skills from modelling statistical representation for the IA, to analyzing maps and graphs and writing more succinctly. 

Although some Reddit users may say that IB Geography is one of the easiest Group 3 subjects, I think it is important to remember that this is only true if you have the right attitude towards the subject, study the content thoroughly, and develop your skills throughout the 2 years.

Content for all 3 papers shouldn’t be crammed the night before exams, and hopefully these tips will help you understand how to study the subject a bit better, as well as give you some advice on how you can improve your scores!

1. Understand the command terms

Before you start practicing past paper questions, it is imperative to understand what each command term means to figure out what kind of answer the examiner is looking for. For example, if the question in Paper 2 asks, ‘Describe what is meant by “embedded water”?’ for 2 marks, you are expected to give a detailed account of what embedded water is. Your response could be ‘Water resources that are used to produce food and manufacture goods in one country [1] that are transferred to other, often water-scarce, countries via trading [1].’ 

When asked to describe a term, it is important to remember that the examiner is not looking for specific examples or knowledge of a case study, but rather a definition that shows how well you understand the meaning of the term. If you went beyond the description and discussed examples, you would only be wasting time that you could use to answer the rest of the paper. I fell into this trap many times! Eventually, I was urged by my teacher to study this list of command terms and their definitions thoroughly, in order to determine what my answers should and shouldn’t include. While this is not an official IB resource, I found their detailed definitions really helpful. If you want to go through the official IB syllabus for Geography , page 14 and 15 discuss command terms.

While mixing up command terms in the short-answer sections of Paper 1 and 2 might not get you into a lot of trouble, confusing the command term ‘Examine’ with ‘Evaluate’ or ‘To what extent’ might lose you a lot of time in the essay sections of the Papers! While their definitions might sometimes overlap, the best way to learn how to approach each of these command terms is by practicing as many questions as you can. This leads me onto my next tip…

2. Practice past paper questions and use mark schemes

I think one of the study methods that helped me the most with IB Geography was my approach to practicing past questions. When my exams were still a couple months away, I would solve past papers without putting any time pressure on myself. I would always get nervous when timing myself and as a result, I would make silly mistakes when analysing graphs or infographics. This method allowed me to gain more confidence in my ability to answer questions. 

Once I was more confident in my ability to apply my knowledge, I would start to time myself and reflect on where I needed the most time. As a result, during the exams, I was less worried about running out of time since I could estimate how long I would take to answer each section. For example, in Paper 3, I would give myself 20 minutes to answer the 12-marker, and 40 minutes to answer the 16-marker. Therefore, even if I needed an extra 5 minutes to finish my conclusion for my first answer, I wouldn’t be worried about running out of time as I had practiced and timed myself multiple times before. 

Practicing past questions not only helps you improve your writing stamina and tests your ability to think under pressure, but questions can sometimes get repeated or the same question can be asked in a very similar way. This means that the more you practice, the more familiar you get with the question styles and types, and if you’re lucky you may even come across similar questions in your exam!

3. Choose case studies that are relevant to you

Case studies relevant to you could include case studies about events or policies that have happened in your own country, or even local area! In Paper 1, one of the required case studies for Option G: Urban Environments is on the topic of ‘Traffic congestion patterns, trends, and impacts’ and we are asked to learn a ‘Case study of one affected city and the management response’. Rather than finding a generic case study online, about a random city that didn’t really have much relevance in my life, I chose to study the traffic management of New Delhi, which is the capital of my country, India. I have experienced their traffic first-hand and have heard so much about the odd-even rule they implemented. So even chatting about the news over dinner with your family can help you when learning case studies! Since I chose to discuss a place and policies relevant in my own life, I knew I would be less likely to forget all the names of the policies, statistics, and trends that I needed to know. 

All the case studies can become overwhelming, so another way I tried to remember all the information was through watching YouTube videos. One of the case studies we are required to learn under Unit 1: Changing Population is ‘The consequences of megacity growth for individuals and societies—One case study of a contemporary megacity experiencing rapid growth.’ When you get tired of reading and rereading your textbooks, watching a video like ‘The World’s Fastest Growing MEGACITY’ might help you learn the content better, especially if you are a visual or auditory learner like me! Just make sure you don’t spend ALL your study time browsing YouTube!

4. Go through the syllabus during each study session

Although our teachers can be a wonderful resource, sometimes, especially during online learning, they might skip out on teaching some of the content. They might ask you to self-study it, or you might only realise you have no idea what new-Malthusian views really are, the day before your exam! I think a great way to avoid nasty surprises like that is by printing out the IB syllabus, and adding a tick mark next to each topic when you’ve finished studying it. This will help you keep track of what you know and what you don’t and also give you the satisfaction of knowing the content you wanted to go over that day. The syllabus is your personal checklist, and the more you go over it, the easier it will be to remember what feedback loops and global dimming are!

I hope these tips help you to get the grade you deserve! I believe that if you can approach the subject with curiosity and an open-mind, you will do well. Learning all the definitions, case studies, command terms, and processes might take a lot of time and energy, but I think it’s worth it to gain the skills of analytical writing, critical thinking, and much more!

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    Time management. You'll have 22 minutes maximum to complete the 10-mark essay, as the you'll need the remaining 38 minutes for the 15-mark question. In above-mentioned 22 minutes, you should jot down a brief plan (1-2 minutes) and then write. Once yourself end, give self 2-3 minutes to reread and check choose response.

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    How to write the Essays. This page is aimed at improving your exam technique and essay approach for Paper 3 including the synoptic essay. It provides some clear ideas to help you think synoptically. It works with essay examples, mark schemes and exercises to help prepare your students with more complex synoptic thinking. To access the entire ...

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  22. DP Geography: Model Essays

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