Leaving Certificate Exam Review – Phys/Chem

By Katrina Davitt

A well laid out paper with familiar questions that would have put students at ease.

The short questions were straight forward with topics that had been covered in previous papers, this meant students who had practised exam papers were well within their comfort zone. The long questions contained no major surprises with gravity present in question 2, including the experiment which received most of the marks and heat in its usual location in question 3 with a simple graph and plenty of marks awarded for definitions and a calculation that a weaker student would have been happy to see. Question 4 on light and 5 on electricity followed the same structure and again awarded students for their time spent learning definitions. Question 6 had a nice choice with an easy to follow question on the electroscope in (b) and radioactivity present in (d) which gave students plenty of marks for the correct use of the log tables. Part (a) based on work and power and (b) based on wavelengths were uncomplicated and fair questions.
The short questions would have been achievable for most students but some may have struggled with the three questions in which they had to write out balanced equations and chemical formulas, however, there was a good balance between calculation and theory questions. Atomic theory was dominant in this section, found in question 8 and 12(b) and (d) and any student that spent time revising this part of the course was rewarded with well laid out questions that focused on molecule shapes and knowledge of the periodic table. Question 9, as in previous years was a titration based question which included the balanced equation which the weaker students would have been happy to see. For a change this question included a graph in which students were told which axis to label, so they simply had to follow the directions given, however, reading the endpoint from the graph would have been unfamiliar to most and has not been seen in any past papers. Question 10 required a good knowledge of oxidation-reduction and electrolysis, it contained a calculation that would not have caused a problem for prepared students. Question 11 on organic chemistry would needed a good knowledge of the many different parts of course including drawing structures, addition and substitution reactions and hydrocarbons. Finally, question 12 had a nice selection of questions including thermochemistry in part (c) which provided students with a balanced equation to work from and part (a) containing a mole calculation question that if read carefully allowed students to gain marks easily.
Overall students were happy with the paper which was fair, had a good structure, with well worded questions and marks awarded appropriately to the prepared student.