International Geography Olympiad






The International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) is an annual competition for the best 16- to 19-year-old geography students from all over the world. Students chosen to represent their countries are the very best, chosen from thousands of students who participate enthusiastically in their own National Geography Olympiads. iGeo tests the abilities of every participants in spatial patterns and processes. The iGeo consists of three parts: a written test, a multimedia test and a substantial fieldwork exercise requiring observation, leading to cartographic representation and geographical analysis. The programme also includes poster presentations by teams, cultural exchanges, and time for students to get to know their fellow students and explore the host city.

The International Geography Olympiad is organised by the International Geographical Union (IGU) Olympiad Task Force, who produce tests with reference to the local organisers and the international board.

After the first iGeo in 1996, it was recommended that the competition was held biennially. Due to the competition growing in popularity, since 2012 the competition has been held annually, rather than biennially, as is the case with the other large International Science


Aims of the International Geography Olympiad



iGeo assessment consists of 3 parts. A written response test (40%), a fieldwork and decision making exercise (40%), and a multimedia test (20%). The champion has the highest combined total score from all tests. As iGeo participants are part of their own national teams, each nation will also have a combined score of their 4 team members. Both ranking tables from these categories are usually released on the webpages of the specific iGeo following the event's conclusion.


Topics tested

The tests are based around these 12 pre-defined topics:

1. Climate & climate change

2. Hazards & hazard management

3. Resources & resource management

4. Environmental geography & sustainable development

5. Landforms, landscapes & land use

6. Agricultural geography & food problems

7. Population & population change

8. Economic geography & globalisation

9. Development geography & spatial inequality

10. Urban geography, urban renewal & urban planning

11. Tourism & tourism management

12. Cultural geography & regional identities


Written Response Test (40%)

The written response test consists of 6 chosen topics from the defined 12 topics (students spend approx. 20 - 25 min. per topic in the exam), with issues that are geographically and socially relevant, that require topical and applied geographical knowledge and geographical skills and deal with physical and human geography, preferably integrated. Each topic has several resource materials such as maps, photos, graphs, statistics. Each topic consists of several questions which are based on the resource materials and range in length from short answer to paragraph length. They may involve completion of a matrix or a table, or the manipulation of data (eg from tabular to graphic form). The choice of the 6 topics from the list of 12 is made by the committee that designs the test. There is a balance between physical and human geography in the test.


Fieldwork Exercise Test (40%)

For the fieldwork exercise students are presented with a spacial problem situated in the area near to where the Olympiad is taking place. Students produce accurate cartography in an initial mapping exercise and then, on the basis of the mapping exercise and the analysis of all the information about the case, the participants have to design a spatial plan (in appropriately annotated cartographic form) that tackles the problem presented, and give an explanation of the choices they have made to solve the problem that was presented.


Multimedia Test (20%)

The Multimedia test is a digital multiple choice test containing 40 items, which tests all 12 defined topics of iGeo. Each item is a piece of multimedia, so consists of a map and/or digital photo, film or graph and a short question with 4 options. The test includes questions that require basic geographical thinking skills, where the contestants analyse information in maps, diagrams or photographs. Perhaps unlike other sections of the Olympiad, the Multimedia test is not intended to test the ability of the contestants to reproduce geographical facts but to test their skills in geographical analysis.


Awarding Medals

There are no official honours for outstanding performances in individual tests, although competitors are made known of the breakdown of the scores so can see where they placed in each test. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are awarded to successful students at iGeo, with the number of medals awarded growing proportionately to the number of participants. In 2014, 12 Gold, 24 Silver, and 36 Bronze medals were awarded, although this increased in 2015 to 13 Golds, 27 Silvers, and 40 Bronzes. In 2015 the lowest score for the medal winners was 57/100, and the highest 80.7/100.