"Which Chinese city is most at risk because of rising sea levels? -- Beijing, Lhasa, Guangzhou or Chengdu"*
"Which state will have the greatest number of electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election? -- California, Texas, Florida, Delaware"*
"Which of the following Mexican states has the highest percentage of its population with Mayan ancestry? -- Yucatan, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua?"*
Local home schoolers are invited to participate in a special administration of the United States Geography Olympiad National Qualifying Exam. All students who obtain a specific minimum score (to be established by USGO organizers) will qualify for nationals in their respective age groups.
The USGO National Qualifying Exam is a 20-minute, 50-question multiple-choice exam. Unlike the National Geographic Society geography bee, the USGO National Qualifying Exam involves no oral answers, no competition between students, and no winners and losers. Students pit themselves against the test, not each other, and receive their scores within a few days of taking the exam. All local home schoolers, regardless of age and state of residence, are invited to participate.
I am planning on giving the 2017-18 USGO National Qualifying Exam on Sunday, February 25 in Bethesda. (See below for times.) I will be giving both the Varsity/JV exam (for all high school students as well as any younger students interested in participating) and the Middle School and Elementary Division exam (for K-8 students). (K-8 students can choose to take the Varsity/JV exam or the Middle School and Elementary Division exam or both; if both, please complete a registration form for each exam.) Participation will be limited to the first 15 paid registrants for both exams.
Immediately after the exam, students will have an additional opportunity to expand their understanding of geography: we'll be spending about 30 minutes discussing the exam questions, including what the likely answers were, why, and what clues within the questions the students might have found helpful.
What is the USGO National Qualifying Exam like? Whereas the National Geographic Society geography bee tends to emphasize static geographic facts, Olympiad questions require more critical thinking and applied geography, better reflecting the interests of actual geographers, who know geographic facts but who also concern themselves with what is happening in a given place and how that affects broader patterns in land use, economics, language dispersal, the environment, and human culture. You can find past exams at www.geographyolympiad.com/regionals/qualifying-exams-answer-keys/
The cost to participate is $15 per student per exam, which is a 25% discount from the individual administration rate normally available to home schoolers and includes the post-exam discussion.
Sample questions drawn from the 2015-16 Varsity/JV exam.
*Guangzhou is most at risk for rising sea levels. (It is the only one of the choices that is coastal.)
*California had the most electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election. (Electoral votes are determined by population, and California is the most populous U.S. state.)
*Yucatan has the highest percentage of people with Mayan ancestry. (The Maya lived throughout Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, which includes the states of Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Chiapas, and in the present-day countries of Guatemala and Belize as well as parts of Honduras and El Salvador.)