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The Best IB Geography Study Guide and Notes for SL/HL

Posted by Dora Seigel | Nov 8, 2015 10:35:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)


If you’re an IB Geography SL/HL students in search of some extra FREE 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.

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


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 notes. For example, if you hope to read about Population change, use Command + F to bring up the search function. Type in “Population change” and it will bring up all of the study materials for Population change.

I separate the resources into:

  • Quick reference: a short summary of a specific sub-topic within a larger topic if you need to learn more about a very specific topic such as “gender and change.”
  • Notes with supporting videos: notes (generally 2-4 pages) if you want a summary of each overall topic with video explanations.
  • Case studies: case studies for each topic 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 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 (that is why 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. Use this article for additional support learning the topics:



Part #1: Core Theme - Patterns and Changes - 70 hours for SL and HL

There are four required topics of study in this part:

Topics #1: Population in Transition


Topics #2: Disparities in Wealth and Development


Topics #3: Patterns in Environmental Quality and Sustainability


Topics #4: Patterns in Resource Consumption



Part #2: Optional Themes - 60 hours for SL and 90 hours for HL

HL students study three of the options below. SL students study two options. The options are:

Option A. Freshwater - Issues and Conflicts


Option B. Oceans and their Coastal Margins


Option C. Extreme Environments


Option D. Hazards and Disasters - Risk Assessment and Response




Option E. Leisure, Sport and Tourism


Option F. The Geography of Food and Health


Option G. Urban Environment



Part #3: HL Extension - Global Interactions - 60 hours for HL only

HL students must study the 7 topics below:


Topics #1: Measuring Global Interactions


Topics #2: Changing Space - The Shrinking World



Topics #3: Economic Interactions and Flows


Topics #4: Environmental Change


Topics #5: Sociocultural Exchanges


Topics #6: Political Outcomes


Topics #7: Global Interactions at the Local Level


What’s Next?

Learn more about IB Geography:

Learn more about other IB Classes:

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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