Agricultural Science Paper Review

by Rory McShane

The Agricultural Science HL paper was in line with the expectations set last year. It was challenging but offered enough choice that students with a good exam strategy should find it very favourable.  

The focus of the new course on Animals, Crops, Technology, and Sustainability are very clear in this paper, while old favourites such as Soil and Genetics barely featured. Students were asked about 7 different experiments that they had studied, had to draw 5 diagrams, do 3 calculations, and their literacy skills tested with 5 comprehensions and 13 tables to decipher. Questions on the use of a smoke bombs and air flow seemed highly unusual though, and the suggestion that students should have prior knowledge on Faecal Egg Counts was also unexpected. 

The truth is that while there is much choice and positives to the new style of paper it does not seem to have found its feet yet. The phrasing of certain questions leaves a lot to be desired and students that have difficulties with reading or comprehension will find the paper difficult. In addition, spelling errors and poor syntax in LC questions is unacceptable, e.g. Q8(a), Q9(b)(ii), Q13(b)(ii), Q18(b)(ii).  

The bar is set quite high, and those students who have strong reading, writing, and mathematic literacy will find this a good test of their Ag. Science knowledge. However, those without the aforementioned literacy skills will find themselves tested twice, once on the question and second on their ability to interpret it.  

This year’s paper really was a good test for Ag. Science students and will give those 5th years enjoying their summer holidays a much better idea of what to expect next June.