The Advanced Subject Test (AST) aims to provide universities with a guide for admissions decisions; it also helps students to evaluate what they have learned in high school as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Since the knowledge and skills students acquire in high school geography courses can serve as a foundation for them to study in a variety of fields such as geography, environment science, spatial information, urban and regional planning, social culture, politics, economics, foreign relations, international finance and trade, transportation, tourism, or hospitality, AST Geography scores are used as one of the university admissions criteria.
Students should be equipped with basic concepts of systematic geography after three years of required and elective geography courses in high school. They should also be able to see things through the spatial, environmental and regional point of views they’ve learned in geography courses. Students need to use the geographical skills and research tools they’ve acquired to analyze, evaluate and solve space-related problems they face in real lives. Through the study of geography, students learn about different people’s lives and features in different regions and try to see the relations among humans, places, and regions in the world. This way, students can learn to respect the differences between peoples and regions and adopt a point of view that will support sustainability when proposing solutions to geographical and environmental problems at hand.
1. To evaluate students’ geographical knowledge
Questions cover advanced knowledge of general geography, regional geography, and applied geography as well as important geographical facts, key terms, concepts, principles, and theories. Students need to understand and have the knowledge by heart and be able to use them to analyze geographical phenomena in real life or in imaginary scenarios. The goals are as follows:
- 1a. To understand and know important geographical facts and terms
- 1b. To understand or use important geographical facts, terms, concepts, principles, and theories
- 1c. To analyze and evaluate geographical facts using geographical concepts, principles, and theories
2. To evaluate students’ skills and ability to deal with geographical information and use geographical research methods
This part of the test focuses on assessing students’ ability to gather, process and present geographical data. Geographical data could include maps, charts, statistical data, aerial shots, satellite images, photos, articles, interviews, questionnaires, field notes, and many other types of information. Students will need to display skills to gather, process, analyze, interpret and present geographical data. The goals are as follows:
- 2a. To utilize proper methods to observe important geographical phenomena and access geographical information
- 2b. To process, organize, and sum up geographical information
- 2c. To analyze, interpret and present geographical information
3. To evaluate students’ ability to analyze geographical features of specific regions in the world and discuss key geographical issues
This part of the test focuses on students’ knowledge of regional geography—specifically on important geographical features and issues of different regions in the world. Students will need to recognize each region’s geographical phenomena as well as to understand and analyze natural and human factors that make each region unique. They also need to analyze why regions are different from one another and why they interact with each other. There will also be questions revolving around regional issues, asking students to explain the physical and human factors that could impact these issues as well as to analyze the relations among these factors. Students also need to understand a certain issue’s impact on regional development. The goals are as follows:
- 3a. To analyze the spatial features of certain geographical phenomena
- 3b. To explain the relations between humans and the environment
- 3c. To explain regional features, differences, and interaction through analyzing physical and human factors
- 3d. To explain influencing factors behind important geographical issues and analyze the relations among them
- 3e. To recognize certain geographical issues’ significance to and impact on certain regions
4. To evaluate students’ ability to use geographical knowledge when solving problems
This part of the questions covers general, regional, and applied geography. It aims to test whether students can utilize geographical knowledge to solve problems. The process of problem-solving could include identifying and understanding the problem, gathering, processing and analyzing information, reaching a conclusion, proposing and testing a hypothesis, evaluating different options, and proposing a solution. The goals are as follows:
- 4a. To understand the procedures and protocols of solving geographical problems
- 4b. To propose solutions to geographical problems
- 4c. To evaluate different solutions and their effect
The questions in the AST Geography are based on the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and materials used in 10th to 12th grade required and elective geography courses. The 10th and 11th grade required geography courses cover general and regional geography, while 12th grade elective courses focus on applied geography.
Focus of the Questions
- All questions are based on the concepts listed in the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines.
- The test is designed to evaluate students’ ability to integrate geographical concepts learned in class.
- The test focuses on students’ ability to organize, compare, contrast, and analyze geographical data. Materials and articles that cover content or concepts listed in the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines could be referred to when writing items.
- The test should provide context, data, and charts needed for students to answer the questions.
- Question types could include short answer questions as well as questions with long descriptions, charts, maps, photos, and statistical figures.