A “Short” Guide on Your BC Provincial Exams

Geography 12 Provincial Exam

Note: this guide was written for the 2004-2005 provincial exams and will not be updated.

Geography 12 is probably the most popular social studies provincial course, at least it is at my school. Geography is supposely one of the easiest provincial courses available, and that’s partly why many students choose this course. For many people, geography brings to mind maps and charts. These things are a part of geography. but that’s not all that geography is about. Geography is actually a very diverse subject that include tons of stuff that I will explain later in this page.

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Course Description
Course Analysis and Tips
Exam Overview
Exam Analysis and Tips

Course Description
Geography 12 can be described as a general overview of geography. The course actually covers a lot of material. Below is a list of stuff I learned when I took Geography 12 in high school. I apologize if some of the details are a bit sketchy, due to the fact that I threw away my course outline when I cleaned out my binders. You also might not learn these things in this specific order. Anyways, here’s the list:

Five Themes of Geography and other key concepts: These are very important in the course and you’ll come back to these themes and concepts throughout the year.

Systems and Spheres: You’ll learn that the global environment is a system made up interconnected spheres and how something can affect something else far say plus a whole bunch of stuff.

Maps: Finally, something that sounds more like geography. You’ll learn how to read topographical maps, calculate scale, identify features, draw contour lines, et cetera. This is a pretty big unit.

Aerial Photos: This part of the course is actually very similar to the maps part. You learn how to look at aerial photos and how to compare them to maps etc.

Atmosphere: This is one of spheres you learn earlier in the course. In this unit you’ll learn more details such as the layers of the atmosphere etc. You will also learn a ton of stuff about weather, such as fronts, air masses, types of precipitation and much, much more.

Lithosphere: This is a humongous unit that covers soils, rocks, minerals, weathering, mass wasting, earthquakes, volcanoes and other stuff I forgot to name.

Climates: You’ll learn about the climate zones that exist on Earth and the characteristics of each climate zone, such as temperature, precipitation, soil type, and fauna and flora present.

Hydrosphere: The last unit of the year and it’s pretty tough too. You’ll learn about the hydrological cycle, rivers, limestone topography, desert landforms and glaciers.

Whew, that is a lot of stuff to cover. You should expect a lot of notes and lecture classes in Geography 12. My teacher went through stuff pretty quickly and even he had to call two extra after school classes to finish off the year. There are also some quizzes and tests as well, plus a bit of homework assignments. Since this is a geography course, there also could be some field trips depending on your teacher and school.

Course Analysis and Tips
As I have said before, a lot of people take Geography 12 not because they are interested in the course or that Geography 12 is necessary for their post-secondary careers, but because Geography 12 is supposedly one of the easiest provincially examinable courses available. To be honest, that’s probably the reason I took Geo, and also because taking 5 provincially examinable courses can get me a study block (basically free time). Well, the truth is that Geography 12 actually isn’t all that easy, at least it wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong though; Geo is by no means a hard course, but like any academic course, the mark you get depends on how much effort you put into studying and preparing for the course. Geography wasn’t really high up on my priority list, so I didn’t really spend as much time on this course as my other provincial courses, and my school marks reflect that. I know of a bunch of somewhat academically-challenged people who got pretty high marks in class. If you take the time to study and prepare for Geography 12, then there is no reason why shouldn’t get a high mark.

The factor that makes Geography 12 a bit tough is the sheer amount of information that you have to remember. You have to know about a lot of things in many areas. Not only do you have to remember these facts, you also have to know how to apply them in certain situations. In the course you will be asked on several occasions to analyze a situation, like a city or a natural habitat and you have to be able to apply the key concepts of geography and the knowledge you have learned in order to accomplish this task. There will also be some calculations when you are in the maps and aerial photo unit, but those shouldn’t be too hard, since the calculations are all simple math. The key to success in Geography is remembering the information you learned and knowing how to apply the information in a given situation. You should review what you’ve learned regularly, especially those key concepts like the five themes of geography and sustainable development. These concepts are very important in the course. If you can relate your responses to these concepts, then you will probably get a good mark for your quizzes and tests.

Due to the fact that there is a lot of stuff to go over in the course, there will be a lot of classes spent going over notes, which makes Geography 12 a pretty boring class for the most part. My Geo teacher tried pretty hard to spice the class up with theatrics and jokes, but there were still some classes where I couldn’t help but yawn in boredom. Well, in those situations, you should at least try to pay attention. Whether or not you will be successful is another story, but you shouldn’t worry too much since you can always read your notes later. Depending on your school and your teacher, you also might have some field trips throughout the year. My Geo teacher organized a huge five day trip in spring break. I didn’t go because the trip was optional and it was pretty expensive (yes, I’m pretty cheap), but a lot of my classmates who went had a very good time. I encourage you to go on field trips as they enhance the course experience and you can have some fun along the way, plus in most cases they are mandatory anyways.

Geography 12 is a pretty interesting course and you can learn a lot of stuff that you can use to impress your friends or other people. However, you should be prepared to spend some time and effort on the course, since this is an academic course and is not as easy as a lot people think it is. Well, maybe you’ll think that it’s really easy, which is good. Like most courses, if you study and review regularly, pay attention in class and do your homework, then you’ll do well in Geo.

Exam Overview
The Geography 12 Provincial Exam is divided into two main sections. Section 1 contains 50 plus multiple choice questions. Section 2 contains around 6 written questions of various lengths. There used to be more written questions and less M/C before 2005, but the Ministry felt like cutting costs so they put more M/C and less written on this exam and exams hereon after. The total is out of 80 something to 90 something marks. You have two hours plus 30 minutes extra to finish the exam. Visit the Ministry’s website for official exam specifications.

Exam Analysis and Tips
The Geo exam tests you on everything that you will or have learned in the entire Geography 12 course, and that is a lot of material. Even though it will take a long time, I strongly recommend that you read all your notes over again at least once before going to the exam. The geography textbook is not very useful in this situation, at least in my case. If your teacher doesn’t give notes (he or she really should), you should try and take notes in class. Your teacher also may offer workshops after classes have ended, and you can go to those workshops for extra help. The best way to practice for most of the questions on the exam is for you to download old exams off the web. There are written responses on the exam that may be difficult to practice, because those questions require essay type answers.

The multiple choice section is not very hard, but it’s not very easy either. Most of the questions are knowledge-based, but they aren’t really that straight forward. For example, they will show you a climate graph and ask you to identify where that climate will occur on a world map. You have to be able to relate one piece of information to another to answer these types of questions. There are also lots of maps, illustrations, diagrams and photos you have to look at in order to answer some of the M/C questions, and you should take a look at those carefully, especially the maps, since writings, lines, and symbols on a topographic map can be very small and hard to see. As always, you should read the question carefully before answering; don’t take too long on one M/C questions and don’t leave any M/C answers field blank. Due to the fact that the questions take some thinking and that you have to look at lots of other information before answering, the M/C section is actually quite long, and time management may be an issue here for some of you.

The written section doesn’t contain nearly as much questions as the M/C, but this section also might take a bit of time to complete. Some of the questions in this section are pretty straight forward and require only one or two sentences to respond. Other questions might require paragraph answers. To do well on this section, you need to understand how these questions are evaluated. If you have seen an old answer key, you’ll know that the marker has a list of possible answers for each question, and you have to have a number of those answers on the list to get the marks. The usual rule is that you put down as many points as the number marks the question is worth, unless the instructions say otherwise. For example, if the question is worth 2 marks, put down 2 points. The last question in the exam is a case analysis that is worth 12 marks. In this question, you will be given data on a certain area of the planet, and you have to basically write a geographical essay based on the data you are given. The essay is marked similarly to the other written questions in that there is a list of items that the markers are looking for in the response. If your response has a sufficient amount of those items, you’ll get the marks. While writing this essay, you should also try to tie in the important concepts of geography, such as sustainable development, Gaia hypothesis, and global citizenship into your response. The markers might look for those keywords when they are marking. Because of this essay, the written response is also pretty long, so make sure you don’t take too long with the M/C. Oh yeah, make sure that your writing is clear and legible and use correct spelling and grammar for your answers. Even though this is not the English provincial, having good spelling and grammar will give the markers a better impression and they might be more inclined to give your more marks.

Overall, the Geography 12 exam is an average exam in terms of difficulty. The exam is fairly long, so time management may become an issue for some of you. It’s really important that you study up for this exam, and when you are studying, make sure that your study the relationships between various items plus the words and terms. Geography is all about interdependence and interconnectivity, so you have to know how one thing relates to another in order to be successful in the course and the exam. I didn’t score as high as I wanted to for Geography, and felt that the exam is a bit more challenging than many of my other exams, but you may find the exam to be easier or harder. I hope this article was of some help and I hope that you get the mark you want on the exam.

7 thoughts to “A “Short” Guide on Your BC Provincial Exams”

  1. I’m surprised how you said that the English 12 exam was the hardest and yet you still said you “escaped” with an A… Does this mean you got around 90+ on the exam or somewhere on the high 80s?

    I recently did the English 12 exam and came out with a score of 87. And quite frankly it was the multiple choice that seemed harder than writing. But I guess I’m just “one of those people” who you state like writing.

  2. Good job on the exam. I got 90% on my exam a couple of years ago. It’s different for everybody, but I thought English was the hardest of my provincials. I’m one of the those math and science nerds you see, so English has never been my strongest subject.

  3. Hey, about the the fact that the exam is impossible ace… last year, a kid in my town aced the exam. He scored 100%, and I thought to myself “Why would they publish this in the newspaper?” I now know why.

  4. dude this was a very good guide, thank you for all your free time to do this,heh… i am also a firm believer in the “less you expect” school of thought haha…

    i just looked on the internet for some last minute advice, my exam is tomorrow.

    one thing i will say is that reading really does help oneself with with improving their style and what not. unfortunately, i have not read in the past semester. so we shall see how things go…

    and again, this was really quite a marvelous essay, it had humor and wit and has put me in a much better mood.

    needless to say if you were a chick i would be hitting on you… i think that sums up my admiration…

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