Friday 23 February 2018

Students have a difficult time dissecting 'wordy' Biology exam

Some candidates learn the dangers of predicting questions, writes Katherine Donnelly

Some candidates learnt the dangers of predicting questions
Some candidates learnt the dangers of predicting questions
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

LC Irish (H) - The danger of students trying to second guess the examiner was brought home to candidates who sat the Leaving Certificate Irish Higher Level Paper 2, according to teacher Ruth Morrissey.

She said since a course change in 2012, different poems and prose had appeared "and some students predicted that the last ones would come up but they didn't; that is the danger of putting all the eggs in one basket".

She also noted that the usual poetry questions asking candidates why they liked a particular poem didn't appear either.

But the Olympics and climate change made for two topical comprehension pieces.

Teacher Robbie Cronin of Marian College, Ballsbridge, Dublin and the ASTI said the one on the Olympics was very interesting, although the "language was a bit challenging for those aspiring for a D or C".

He said the climate change questions were fair, but he was "still trying to find out in my own mind what an important term in the piece actually means: forbairt inbhuanaithe".

The phrase was explained in the last paragraph, but he didn't know how it would translate in English.

Mr Cronin said the Prose and Poetry questions were easy to understand, while questions on the play/short story/extra poetry were open and accessible.

LC Irish (O)

Popular actress Saoirse Ronan and another Irish screen great Maureen O'Hara had starring roles on the Leaving Certificate Irish Ordinary Level Paper 2.

They featured in what teacher Robbie Cronin described as "an interesting comprehension text" with "good questions".

The second comprehension piece was about Waterford city and its history and famous characters, and Mr Cronin singled out Question 4 (b) - Why are memorial events going to take place this year? - as "tough for this level; the language here was very difficult".

On the other hand, Mr Cronin said the questions on prose and poetry were well received by students.

Ruth Morrissey of St Michael's Community College, Kilmihil, Co Clare, and the TUI agreed that the text on the comparison between O'Hara and Ronan was a "lovely piece".

She described the questions on the second comprehension as "well within the grasp of students".

Overall, she regarded the paper as "fair".

So did Clare Grealy of the Institute of Education, Dublin, although she thought there were "certain areas that might have caused some difficulties for students".

These included the question on the Spailpin Fanach where the word uirlis (working tool) appeared, "which many may not have understood".

LC Biology

Very challenging, with off-putting phraseology and not enough modern biology, was how teacher Lily Cronin described the Leaving Certificate Biology Higher Level paper.

"The students I spoke to afterwards all found it very difficult," said Ms Cronin of Mercy Mount Hawk Secondary School, Tralee, Co Kerry and the ASTI.

She said students felt in some questions "they did not quite know what they were being asked" and she herself thought the paper "very long and wordy".

Question 10 was one of those with which she took issue. "The phraseology was difficult and there were so many different parts, students would have had to think long and hard."

She said Question 11 had a "very difficult" start, but otherwise was nice.

Mona Murray, of the Institute of Education, Dublin agreed that it was a "tough" paper.

"It required very careful reading and students would need to have known the fine details of the syllabus in order to answer all parts of the questions. Some of the questions were quite indirect and students were required to think outside the box," she said.

In contrast, Ms Cronin said the ordinary level paper was "student friendly with good clear diagrams, especially in Section A questions 2 and 3". However, she thought Question 9(b) "might have been a bit of a challenge".

JC Business Studies (H&O)

A question on the new mortgage rules on the Junior Cert Business Studies Higher Level Paper 1 was so up-to-date that it isn't covered in the textbooks, so candidates would need to keep abreast of current affairs, said Keith Connolly of Lusk Community College and the Business Teaches Association of Ireland.

Both he and other teachers agreed that the papers overall were very fair,

Eamonn Scully of Maria Immaculata Community College, Dunmanway, Co Cork, and the ASTI said there was no question that higher level students could not attempt.

David Duffy of Adamstown Community College, Co Dublin and Education Officer, TUI, said the papers gave good coverage of the course with topics such as economics, savings, loans, budgeting and final accounts appearing on both levels,

He described Higher Level Paper 1 as "very up-to-date with issues such as Question 3 on economic growth and EU membership, while Paper 2 was in line with expectations from previous years. Question 6 was very imaginative in using the idea of renting housing to tenants as a basis for a question on business ownership and sales promotion," he said.

Irish Independent

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