Saturday 20 January 2018

Harder than heart surgery

Leaving Certificate Biology

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Higher level students would find it easier to dissect a heart than to tackle one of the questions they faced yesterday, according to teachers.

Candidates were asked to write about the steps involved in a dissection, but teachers Lily Cronin and Tim O'Meara agreed that it would have been easier to have performed the dissection than to have described it.

Ms Cronin, of the ASTI and Mean Scoil Eoin Baiste, Killarney, Co Kerry, thought it a challenging paper with a lot of reading through of questions required.

She said: "The first thing I noticed was the wordiness of the paper. There is always a lack of diagrams at higher level."

Ms Cronin also noted that there were three questions where candidates had to draw labelled diagrams

"A lot of students find it difficult. Some would ask, 'Must I be good at art?'

"There will always be those who won't achieve full marks in a labelled diagram. I think asking them to draw labelled diagrams is old-fashioned," she said.

Mr O'Meara, of the TUI, thought question 2 in the short questions was more difficult than normal and "required a lot of working out".

He also noted that some parts of question 2 had the same answer, which could have been off-putting for students. Mona Murray, of the Institute of Education, described higher level as "fair" although she remarked that while it is divided into three sections -- short questions, practical and long questions -- "the reality is that the paper is a sequence of short questions.

" For the most part, students were not given the opportunity to develop answers for themselves; a more 'what is?' as opposed to 'describe' approach to questions. This is a pattern that has developed"

Ms Murray and Ms Cronin agreed that question 10 on DNA was difficult.

However, there was general agreement that the ordinary level paper was fair.

Irish Independent

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