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Unit 1 Review: Thinking Geographically

4 min readseptember 24, 2020


Amanda DoAmaral

Unit I.  Human Geography: Its Nature and Perspectives (5-10%)

In AP® Human Geography, unit 1 covers the basics about geography and lays the foundation for the rest of the course. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for this unit, focus on the key concepts!

Unit 1 Summary

The following summary is from AMSCO AP Human Geography:
Human geography is the study of why people choose to live where they do and how humans and the environment interact to create the world that we live in. Human geographers seek to discover who lives where, how they live, and why they live there. The study of human geography involves the use of maps, models, and spatial analysis technologies as a means of abstracting and simplifying space and all it contains for study. Maps depict a three-dimensional Earth in two-dimensions, are inherently flawed due to this, and are designed with special purposes that should match the needs of the map-user.  This first unit emphasizes basic geography skills and the various types and uses of maps.
To understand the spatial aspects of phenomena, geographers use a broad set of concepts, skills, and tools. One basic concept is distance. For example, how far apart in space are houses in a community? This distance affects everything from how people relate to their neighbors to where stores will open. A geographic skill is an ability to apply spatial concepts to understand how people live. The most common tool for geographers is a map. A map can show almost any phenomenon that has a spatial distribution. Maps can help people identify and analyze world patterns and processes. For example, mapping the spread of a disease can help public health officials decide what steps to take to counter the spread.
One systematic way to study geographic phenomena is to use Four Level Analysis. The levels are comprehension of the basic information, identification and explanation of a pattern, and prediction of what the pattern might lead to. Traditionally, geographers would gather data through field experiences. To make maps, they carefully measured distances and drew what they saw. Today, geospatial technologies such as GIS, GPS and remote sensing,  make gathering information far more simple, though field experiences are still important.


Unit 1 Essential Questions

  • How does the way that geographers look at the world differ from that of other scientists?
  • What tools and techniques do geographers use to analyze the world?

Unit 1 Models & Theories to Know

  • Latitude, Longitude
  • GIS
  • Types of Thematic Maps (isoline, dot, proportional symbol, choropleth)
Read about all of the Major Models and Theories to Know for Human Geo:

Past Practice Questions from Unit 1

STUDY TIP: There has yet to be any FRQs about unit 1. Focus on the vocabulary and foundational concepts here, but don't spend too much time reviewing this unit.
Make sure to check out the:
These types of Maps are often tested on MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) from this unit!


1. Geography as a field of inquiry
2. Evolution of key geographical concepts and models associated with notable geographers
3. Key concepts underlying the geographic perspective: location, space, place, pattern, regionalization, and globalization
4. Key geographical skills such as:
  1. How to use and think about maps and spatial data
  2. How to understand and interpret the implications of associations among phenomena in places
  3. How to recognize and interpret at different scales the relationships among patterns and processes
  4. How to define regions and evaluate the regionalization process
  5. How to characterize and analyze changing interconnections among places
5. New geographic technologies such as GIS and GPS
6. Sources of geographical ideas and data: the field, census data, etc.

Unit 1 Study Guides APHuG - Geography

Other Unit 1 Topics

Want to learn more all about the types of diffusion? ⚡ Watch: AP Human Geography - All About Cultural Diffusion

Don't Be Confused on the Types of Diffuson! Read a study guide or watch a stream above to learn about the major types of diffusion 🦠

Image Courtesy of ImgFlip Meme Generator - SelfCreated


⚡ Watch: AP Human Geography - Vocabulary Development ⚡ Watch: AP Human Geography - Unit 1 Test Review
STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from unit 1 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
Vocab WordMajor Concepts
Sequent OccupanceChanging attributes of place
Cultural LandscapesAttributes of a Place
Population DensityArithmetic, Physiological, Agricultural
Cultural DiffusionHierarchical Diffusion, Relocation Diffusion, Expansion, Contagious, Stimulus
LocationRelative Location, Absolute Location
Dispersion/ConcentrationDispersed/scattered, Clustered/agglomerated
Environmental DeterminismHuman Environment Interaction (5 Themes!)
PossibilismHuman Environment Interaction (5 Themes!)
Scales⚡ Watch: AP Human Geography - Scales of Analysis
Spatial PerspectiveScales of Analysis and Earth's Surface
GIS/GPSGeographical Information Systems. Geographic Positioning Systems
Maps⚡ Watch: AP Human Geography - Maps, Maps, Maps
Map ScaleMaps are the tool most uniquely identified with geography; the ability to use and interpret maps is an essential geographic skill.
Mental MapHow does your activity space affect your perception of place?
Remote SensingGIS can help approximate locations and physical characteristics.


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Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep
Free Response Questions (FRQ)
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Unit 1: Thinking Geographically
Unit 2: Population & Migration
Unit 3: Cultural Patterns & Processes
Unit 4: Political Patterns & Processes
Unit 5: Agriculture & Rural Land-Use
Unit 6: Cities & Urban Land-Use
Unit 7: Industrial & Economic Development
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