American O.I.B. History-Geography Methodology

The OIB HG exam consists of a single 4-hour written paper at the end of Terminale and a 20 minute oral exam. Both exams will test your knowledge and understanding of themes studied in History and Geography during Terminale.

Use this post to learn about the format of questions and what to expect in the written and oral exams.

The Written Exam (coefficient 10)

Each exam paper will contain Subject A (History Essay and Geography DBQ/AMQ) and Subject B (Geography Essay and History DBQ).

– Essay question (History and Geography subject)

Data Based Question (either History or Geography subject)

Annotated Map Question

You must choose one of the two Subjects A or B and complete all of it. Both options contain an essay question which you must complete in 2 hours and leaving two hours to complete the other question.

The Oral Exam (coefficient 5)

The oral exam is divided into two sections: one half about History the other half about Geography.  Students will draw a random question from a box and have 20 minutes to prepare a 7 minute presentation in response to the question with 3 minutes of follow-up questions by the examiner. This could be about a Geography or History subject.

For the last 10 minutes of the exam the examiner will then ask the student approximately 10 questions about what the student has learnt in the subject not covered by the presentation.

The exam assesses a student’s speaking and listening skills, and their ability to address the nuances of a question. The oral exam is an exchange between the student and the examiner and the most important part of this exchange is the question and answer session(s).

General OIB Exam Methodology

Download the HG OIB Methodology Booklet below for full details on how to approach essay questions, complete a thesis statement and tackle DBQs and AMQs.



Specific Guidance for History DBQ responses

History DBQs wil ask you to discuss the values and limitations of the documents with which your are presented in the exam. The examiner needs to see you can critically evaluate a document (e.g. identify strengths and weaknesses, the reliability of a document, etc). Download the following document for more information:

Values and Limitations of Documents


Specific Guidance for Geography AMQ responses


The Annotated Map Question will be posed in two parts as follows:

1. Draw an annotated map, including the legend (key), on the topic: XXXX (name of topic goes here)
2. Using the annotated map, the document and your own knowledge write a short essay (should include thesis, body, brief conclusion, and consist of roughly two sides of writing) to answer the following question: XXXXX (question goes here).

Important things to remember about the map and legend:

You must produce a neat and easy to read annotated map (use coloured pencils and a few felt-tip pens – avoid ballpoint pens and markers and never use highlighters).

Between 10-15 symbols should be used in the legend (ideally 12).

The Information in the legend must be hierarchically categorized (through use of colour and size of symbols) using all four types of representation (areas, lines, arrows, points). Places and names must also be correctly labelled on the map.

The 4 basic types of symbols to include on your map in order to represent information are:

Areas (e.g. state at the heart of globalization)

Lines (e.g. a communication route)

Arrows (e.g. merchandise flows)

Points (e.g. the location of a city)

Useful documents to download (including excellent student maps):

Access this document for examples of symbols and how to organize the legend in a hierarchical sense:

Reminder about AMQ Methodology

Access this document for a simplified evaluation grill so you understand what examiners grading your map + essay are looking for:

AMQ Simplified Evaluation Grid

These are excellent high quality AMQs on the topic Seas and Oceans at the core of globalization, use them as a guide to inspire your maps:

Seas and Ocean MAP 1

Seas and Oceans Map2

Seas and Oceans Map3


These are examples of the base map you could be asked to use in an OIB AMQ exercise:

fond_Etats-Unis fond_monde_





Understanding Map Projections

There are many different types of map projections that exist, some that you may come across in our lessons (and the OIB exam) include:

– the familiar Mercator projection which is less accurate away from the equator:

– the Lambert projection which projects the surface onto a cone:

– and the Breisemeister projection developed in 1953 which presents land masses more centrally and with less distortion:


Each has advantages and disadvantages, watch the video below for more explanation:




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