Tuesday 16 July 2019

Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science: 'Topical issues turned up on well-thought-out exam'

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Topical issues such as the commonly-used weed killer, glyphosphate, and the drought farmers experienced last summer, turned up on the Leaving Cert higher level Agricultural Science paper.

All in all, it was a well-thought-out exam and one with which students would be happy, said teacher Donal Power.

"It was fair and had no questions for which students would not have been prepared," said Mr Power of Dublin’s Institute of Education.

It was Q2, which addressed the 2018 drought as well as soil pH, while the experiment was on soil flocculation "which would be well known by students", he said.

In Q3, Option 1, on beef production, Mr Power said part (b) was a good test of student's ability to compare suckler beef production with dairy beef production.

He noted that in Q8, part (a), the life-cycle of the liver fluke appeared for the first time in a few years.

Another teacher, Rory McShane of Yeats College, Galway said the exam had "less of a focus on a broad range of topics and more of an in-depth focus of a few".

Overall, he felt it was a "very good" paper and "with the exception of some terms/definitions not covered in any agricultural science textbook, it offered plenty of opportunity for weaker and stronger students to achieve a deserving grade".

Mr McShane noted that there were no questions on the pig "which at least has been examined in questions 1 and 9 in recent years". 

He added that while previous papers "always addressed the livestock chapter", there was a "dairy vacuum this year", along with "very little on sheep", but one full question on beef.

Q3, Option 2, which focused on plant physiology, silage, and microbiology "was worded awkwardly" and he said few students found Q5, on crops, and the use of glyphosphate weed killers, difficult.

While Mr McShane said Q7 followed the usual format, some students "found the wording in part (a) a little tricky" but he was "impressed with the applied scenario in part (c) which should find higher level students doing very well."

And rounding it off, he described Q9 as "a delight with loads to offer and nothing fanciful about the wording of the questions".

Mr Power described the ordinary level paper as "nice and straightforward" and one that offered students "huge choice".

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