by Diane Walsh
The Leaving Certificate higher level Chemistry paper was a very balanced and fair paper. Students were asked to complete six questions this year, this was a welcomed change after the challenges they have faced over the last two years.
Section A, which consists of 3 mandatory experiments started with the usual volumetric analysis question this was based on household bleach it was a very typical question one and would not have presented too many problems. Question two was based on the preparation of soap, the change in the ester used in the reaction may have been confusing for some, but those who were well prepared would have handled this change very well. Question 3 saw the return of flame tests and anion test which would have been welcomed, however the inclusion of the displacement reactions in part C may have deterred students from doing this question.
Section B was very wide ranging and covered many aspects of the syllabus. In line with previous years, question five was based on atomic history and structure, question six and eight based on organic chemistry and thermochemistry. Although most questions were very straight forward in Section B, some students may have struggled with the phrasing used in question five, also the inclusion of a calculation based on alcohol sanitizers may have prevented students from attempting question 8. Some old reliables also appeared with a very straight forward acid and base question found at number seven and a very approachable chemical equilibrium question at number 9.
Overall, the chemistry paper gave the students every opportunity to excel and do their best, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t without its challenges but with reduced questions to be completed and increased internal choice this made for a very manageable higher-level paper.