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


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


Option B: Oceans and Coastal Margins



Option C: Extreme Environments


Option D: Geophysical Hazards



Option E: Leisure, Tourism, and Sport




Option F: Food and Health


Option G: Urban Environments




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


Topic B: Global Climate — Vulnerability and Resilience


Topic C: Global Resource Consumption and Security




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


Topic B: Human Development and Diversity

Topic C: Global Risks and Resilience




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:




What's Next?

Learn more about IB Geography:

Learn more about other IB Classes:



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Dora Seigel

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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