How to answer and FRQ
How to answer and FRQ
How to answer an FRQ?
( also known as the evil questions that account for half of my exam grade)
WHAT DO APHG EXAM QUESTIONS
The APHG Exam is composed of 75 multiple choice questions and 3 free response
questions (FRQ). The focus here will be on the FRQ’s. FRQ’s are generally designed to
test your geographic knowledge through critical thinking. Each of the three questions will
test your knowledge in different ways.
FIRST- Identify what the prompt is
asking you to do?
Types of FRQ’s
• There are 3 types of FRQ’s:
• You will see 1 of each type of FRQ on your exam
Definition with specific explanations
• A) Students are asked a question in which they will be asked to define
terminology, concepts, etc. However, a definition alone will not allow the student to
score well. In the best answers, the student must USE the definition by tying it to
real-world examples and giving depth and detailed explanations of how those
definitions apply. This type of question generally has the higher mean on the APHG
exam, Why? One could assume that students have been traditionally taught (in their
pre-high school years) using methods involving definitions and fact-based
information. Therefore, the students are generally more comfortable with a question
asking for definitions.
EXAMPLE: State, Nation, Nation State with examples of each.
– Make sure to define any terms of concepts you are asked to
Connection to case study,
scenario, actual situation, etc.
B) This type of question asks students to connect human geographic knowledge to the
question prompt. A connections-type question is a bit more difficult for most students.
Means for these types of questions are somewhat lower than the definitional question.
Students should use their geographic knowledge and make intricate connections to the
situations posed in the question. Teachers should encourage students to fully explain
their answers. Poor answers on this question tend to come from students who give
some correct information, but do not make the necessary connections using examples.
Religious beliefs and sacred space; burial procedures; architecture
and place names.
• DISCUSS: Explain the underlying concepts related to the question
– Provide specific examples to support your underlying concepts
• Use your best example first -Explain
– Explain only what the prompt asks
Synthetic, critical thinking question
This type of question requires the student to analyze data, models, maps,
concepts, etc. which are presented and synthesize an answer using their
geographic knowledge and skills. For example, the synthetic question
involves taking difficult concepts, explaining these concepts and then
in information which is not necessarily in the question, and developing it. Good
answers here are those where the student strings together information they have
learned from 3, 4, 5 or even more chapters from their textbook. For example, two
years ago students were asked to write about the usefulness of a particular
geographic model. The word usefulness implies that the student could (and should)
evaluate that model using real world examples. Using cogent arguments, the student
can validate the model, call the model’s assumptions into question or refute the
model as outdated, impractical or wrong. The synthetic question really
the student a chance to shine and draw from the multiple experiences of an APHG
class. Knowledge from the text, field trips, computer mapping exercises,
supplemental readings, research projects and personal experiences should be used
to answer a synthetic question. As one would expect, the synthetic question has the
lowest mean of the three. Students must be taught how to think and write about this
type of question.
Example: The Core – Periphery [Wallenstein’s Theory]
Review Definition FRQ
• Requires specific explanations and examples
• Q’s are tied to real world examples
• Must have depth and include detailed
explanation of how it can be applied
• Question is fairly straightforward: define the
word, give an example and then explain in
2001 FRQ – Green Revolution
(a) (i) Define the term “Green Revolution” as used during the
period 1945 to 1985.
(ii) Explain the principal agricultural practices/technologies
associated with the green revolution
(iii) Name TWO regions, in different parts of the world, where
the green revolution has had significant impact on crop
(b) Identify and discuss TWO social, political, or cultural conditions
necessary for the success of the agricultural
practices/technologies of the green revolution.
(c) Identify and discuss TWO significant economic or ecological
factors that may limit the long-term success of the agricultural
practices/technologies of the green revolution
• Tie to a scenario, case studies or actual
• Can be more difficult than definition questions
• Geographic knowledge should be connected in
specific ways to the situation posed on the
• You should fully explain every part of the
answer in this type of question
Connection FRQ Group Activity
1. Write down why it is a Connection question.
2. What are the main terms and concepts in the
3. What will be connected?
2001 FRQ - Suburbanization
The development of suburbs in North American
metropolitan areas has greatly accelerated since the
1950’s and 1960’s.
Discuss how THREE of the following have
contributed to this acceleration:
b. Housing production
c. Landscape preferences
d. Social and demographic trends
• Are process oriented and require critical thinking
• You must analyze the question and construct a
response using geographic knowledge and skills
• You will be expected to explain complex concepts
using information not provided in the question
• Content in your response should be drawn from many
sources and real world examples
• Should be a coherent well written essay, refer to
sources to support your position, avoid mere
paraphrase or summary
Synthesis FRQ Group Activity
1. Write down why it is a Synthesis question.
2. What are the main terms and concepts in the
3. What concepts and content will be part of the
4. What organization categories could be used to
craft a response to the question?
2001 FRQ – Rostow Model
• According to the Rostow model, countries move through the following five
stages of economic development:
Stage 1: Traditional
Stage 2: Preconditions for takeoff
Stage 3: Takeoff
Stage 4: Drive to maturity
Stage 5: High mass consumption
Explain the usefulness of the model in understanding contemporary social and economic
changes with reference to any THREE of the following:
a) A country’s role in the world economy
b) Colonial transportation networks
c) Cultural differences
d) Local social and class structures
Be sure to support your answers with examples from any of the following regions:
– Be specific as possible
– Pick only one
– Pay attention to how many examples are requested in the prompt
Key features or factors
– Discuss two or three ideas in detail
– Make a list with no elaboration – it is not necessary
You can do it!
Develop an outline of your main points before writing your response
Answer the “easiest” question first (it does not matter what question you
Use geographic language/vocabulary whenever possible
Do not rewrite the question in the response
NEVER leave the question blank. Remember that you don’t lose points for
extra details or incorrect information
HOW SHOULD YOU ATTACK THE FRQs?
You will have 75 minutes to answer the 3 FRQ’s. Take 1-2 minutes to scan
all of the questions and make notes on the margins of the test form (if you
have time). This will help you begin to process the content of the questions
and organize your thoughts.
Assign time limits on each of the 3 FRQ’s. A good suggestion is to answer
the question that you perceive as the easiest (the one with which you feel
the most comfortable) question first. Then allot 10-15 minutes to that
question. Go to the next easiest question and allot 15 minutes for it. This
process will leave a minimum of 30 minutes for the most difficult question.
This leaves the student with around 15 minutes for “changeover” between
questions, reviewing answers, editing responses or adding information.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO ON THE
You should not write introductory paragraphs, restate the question or develop a
thesis. These techniques are not only useless on the APHG Exam, but take up
valuable time from making good geographic arguments. You are only being
asked to answer the question using cogent constructs. Therefore, you must
write in a process-oriented style, which speaks to the main ideas of the
question. Most students who have trouble on the APHG exam simply do not
answer the question which has been posed or spends a great deal of time
writing preparatory sentences.
In short, you should get to the point of the question and supply appropriate
content with proper examples as possible. Remember, writing style is
simply not an issue.
WHAT DO READERS LOOK FOR?
Readers look for students to engage in process-oriented answers on the
three questions. Readers look for students who are trying to think
Additional pointers to students:
It is easier to read an answer which is labeled with A, B, C, etc. as was the
Readers like papers free of introductory paragraphs and restated questions.
Readers will try to give credit where possible. If you forget something, put it
at the bottom of your answer and write, “this goes with part B.”
Write only about information which will answer the question.
Make your comments and stop. There is no need for a closing paragraph.
Be at TCC on time!