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Leaving Cert Physics ‘silver lining’ for those seeking higher grades


(Stock Photo)

(Stock Photo)

(Stock Photo)

A very thorough but fair paper, is how one teacher described Leaving Cert Physics Higher Level.

Pat Doyle, of The Institute of Education, Dublin, said rather than combining topics, the vast majority of questions were based on only one topic.

“This was very fair given the fact that some students may not have completed the entire course,” he said.

But Mr Doyle said the questions were searching and students would need to have known their course material very well.

Due to this year’s changes, students only had to answer two out of five questions in Section A, rather than three out of four.

Kevin Dunphy, an Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) subject representative, said questions here on pendulum, light, sound , electricity and heat gave the students a “positive" start.

Mr Dunphy of Heywood Community School, Co Laois, felt students should have found the Section B questions “quite balanced in terms of challenging material and key concepts”, and said they were “very much in line” with the syllabus.

He thought the term “angular displacement” in Q7, may have presented some problems for students.

In his comment on Q7, the mechanics question, Mr Doyle described it as “quite challenging, and students who do applied maths would have had a definite advantage.”

Mr Dunphy described Q8, which began with a passage on clouds and the silver lining that can sometimes be observed due to diffraction of light, as “very fair and challenging for those seeking higher grades”.

It allowed them to show what they know, he said.

Mr Doyle said the choice, overall, as excellent. He said it was nice to see questions that linked physics to the real world, such as Q9, about a cooler box, Q14, which referenced the use of a ball lens in photography and Q13 (b), which referenced of the information age, radios and mobile phones.

In his comment on Q13, Mr Dunphy said “students would have been happy with this full question on particle physics.”

Mr Dunphy said Q14 would have been very popular, especially parts (c) and (d) on the photoelectric effect and light. Although requiring higher order thinking, these questions were very manageable, he said.

He said comments from students included “a lot easier than expected, heat capacity question threw me off apart from that I did fairly well”, “nothing too difficult came up” and “I could avoid the hard questions”.

In relation to the ordinary level paper, Mr Dunphy said there was a” good selection of well-balanced questions” .

He singled out two questions for mention One was Q4, about the specific latent heat of vaporisation of water, which he described as “nicely structured to allow students to attempt a question at this level that they often find challenging”.

On the other hand, he said students may have found Q9, on resistivity to calculate the cross section area of a wire and the current flowing through the ammeter, “difficult but given that students had a choice many may have avoided this question”.

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