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DSST Introduction to Geography Study Guide

Updated: Feb 14

DSST Introduction to Geography Exam Outline

Are you preparing for the DSST Introduction to Geography exam?

Looking for a comprehensive study resource to help you succeed? Look no further!

Our DSST Introduction to Geography Study Guide is designed to provide you with all the essential information and study materials you need to ace your exam.

Whether you're new to geography or need a refresher, our guide will help you understand key concepts, improve your study approach, and boost your confidence on exam day.

Start preparing today and get ready to succeed!


Table of Contents


1. The Earth, Basic Facts and Concepts

Woman walking around in a forest.
The Earth, Basic Facts and Concepts (19% - 21%)


Seasons play a significant role in geography, with events like the June Solstice, September Equinox, December Solstice, and March Equinox marking critical transitions in the Earth's seasonal cycle.

These events signal changes in temperature, weather patterns, and daylight hours, influencing various aspects of life and ecosystems across the globe.


Maps and Cartography

Maps and cartography are fundamental tools in geography, providing graphic representations of the Earth's surface.

They help us navigate, plan, and understand the world around us, from local landscapes to global features.

Coordinate systems, such as latitude and longitude, allow us to pinpoint specific locations on the Earth's surface, aiding navigation and studying geographic phenomena.



Physiography encompasses the study of tectonics, gradation landforms, and hills.

Tectonics explores the movement and deformation of the Earth's crust, shaping the planet's surface over millions of years.

Gradation and landforms refer to the processes of erosion and deposition that sculpt the Earth's topography, creating diverse landscapes.

Hills are prominent landforms that rise above their surroundings, influencing local ecosystems and human activities.



The atmosphere, a layer of gases surrounding the Earth, plays a crucial role in geography by influencing weather and climate.

It affects the distribution of ecosystems, agricultural practices, and human settlements, highlighting its importance in understanding the Earth's physical processes.


Soils and Vegetation

Soils and vegetation are essential components of geography, as they determine the viability of plant life in various regions.

Soils must contain nutrients and specific moisture conditions to support vegetation, influencing climate, biodiversity, and agricultural practices.



Water is a critical element in geography, shaping landscapes and ecosystems.

Oceans, rivers, lakes, and glaciers are all part of the Earth's water systems, impacting weather patterns, landforms, and human activities.

Understanding the geography of water is essential for managing resources and protecting environments worldwide.


DSST Introduction to Geography Trivia Question # 138


2. Culture and Environment

Squirrel in a tree.
Culture and Environment (34% - 36%)

Cultural Systems and Processes

Cultural systems and processes encompass a wide range of human activities, including the domestication of plants and animals.

This process began thousands of years ago and has profoundly impacted human societies, leading to settled communities, agricultural practices, and cultural exchange.

Studying cultural origins and dispersals helps us understand how human societies have evolved and interacted.



The study of population in geography focuses on the characteristics and patterns of human populations.

This includes analyzing population growth, distribution, density, and migration.

Understanding these factors is crucial for assessing resource use, environmental impact, and societal development.


Natural Resources

Natural resources are essential for human survival and development, but rapid population growth has put immense pressure on these resources.

This has led to the accelerated alteration of the Earth's surface and oceans, impacting ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate.

Managing natural resources sustainably is a critical challenge in contemporary geography, requiring an understanding of environmental processes and human impacts.


3. Spatial Processes

Goat eating from a tree.
Spatial Processes (29% - 31%)

Social Processes

Human spatial behavior, or "human decision-making," is a fundamental aspect of social processes.

It involves understanding how individuals and groups choose where to live, work, and socialize, shaping the spatial patterns of human activities and interactions.


Modern Economic Systems

Modern economic systems encompass various activities, including agriculture, manufacturing, retailing, services, and high technology.

These systems play a crucial role in shaping the spatial organization of societies and the distribution of resources.


Settlement Patterns

Settlement patterns refer to how human settlements are distributed across the landscape.

This includes the physical characteristics of settlements (site) and their relationship to surrounding areas (situation).

Understanding settlement patterns is essential for urban planning, resource management, and environmental conservation.


Political Geography

Political geography deals with the spatial aspects of politics and government, including territories, boundaries, political systems, and the geographical distribution of power.

It examines how political processes are influenced by and shape the physical environment.


Social Problems

Social problems refer to issues within society that negatively affect individuals or groups.

These can include poverty, inequality, crime, and discrimination.

Addressing social problems requires understanding their underlying causes and developing effective strategies for intervention and change.


DSST Introduction to Geography Trivia Question # 879


4. Regional Geography

Monkey in a tree.
Regional Geography (14% - 16%)

Defining a Region

A region is a part of the earth's surface with one or many similar characteristics that distinguish it from other areas.

These characteristics include physical features, climate, vegetation, culture, and human activities.

Regions can be defined at various scales, from local to global, and are often used to study and analyze different aspects of the Earth's surface.


Geopolitical Regions

Geopolitical regions are areas defined by political boundaries and government jurisdictions.

Political geography encompasses all aspects of boundaries, countries, states, national development, international organizations, diplomacy, internal divisions, and voting.

Geopolitical regions shape global politics, economics, and social interactions.



Globalization is the process by which the world becomes increasingly interconnected and integrated.

It involves the exchange of ideas, products, and cultures across borders and continents.

Globalization has been facilitated by technological advancements, communication, and transportation, allowing for greater interdependence and interaction among people and nations.


5. Conclusion

Image of a globe.

DSST Introduction to Geography

In conclusion, this DSST Introduction to Geography Study Guide is a comprehensive resource to help you prepare for the exam.

This guide covers various topics, from understanding basic geographic concepts to exploring cultural, economic, and political geography.

Utilizing the information and practice questions provided can enhance your knowledge and increase your chances of success on the exam.

Remember to take advantage of our online preparation course and free practice exam for a more thorough review.

With dedication and thorough preparation, you can confidently approach the DSST Introduction to Geography exam and achieve a favorable outcome.


6. Student Resources


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