Exam Review: Construction Studies

Written by Tomás Callanan, Yeats College Construction Teacher.

The 2024 Construction Studies exam paper was well-received by students, offering a balance of challenging and approachable questions. It was notable for its comprehensive coverage of current and topical issues in the field of construction. 

This question focused on a Lean-to Roof with a Concrete Cavity wall and an extension wall featuring rainscreen cladding. Students who continued to study the scale drawing aspect of the course, despite Q1 not being compulsory, would have been pleased with the familiar roofing-based question. This provided a good foundation for those who concentrated on scale drawings, aligning well with previous trends.

Q7 presented a well-rounded challenge with a mixture of topics: Timber Floor, Timber Frame wall, and Window lintel. These elements were approachable yet contained higher-order parts to challenge more advanced students. 

The other questions covered a wide array of topics: 

  • Flexibility in Design 
  • Redesign with Vernacular elements 
  • Planning/Site Location 
  • U-values 
  • Environmental Sustainability 
  • Stove and Heating Systems 
  • Sound and Attic Spaces 
  • Passive Design with Retrofitting 

With five questions out of ten to answer, students had significant choices, making the selection of the right combination crucial due to the paper’s detailed nature. 

The popular U-values question introduced Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF), a first-time inclusion reflecting its growing popularity in the country. The twist in this question involved calculating using wood pellets instead of traditional oil, mirroring modern heating systems. It concluded with an evaluation of wood pellet stoves, discussing their advantages and disadvantages. 

Q3 had an engaging brief requiring students to redesign a house’s internal plan, incorporating a forge with views of mountains to the south. The task involved creating a new  Kitchen/Living space to maximise these views and discussing the benefits of respecting  Vernacular architecture during renovation. 

Overall, the 2024 Construction Studies exam paper was well-structured, challenging higher-order students while remaining accessible to all. The variety of questions ensured comprehensive coverage of the syllabus, leaving students feeling relieved and positive as they concluded their second week of examinations.