Leaving Certificate Exam Review – Physics

by Marian Lowry

The experiment questions in Section A, the first section of the exam were very much in line with those posed for students in previous years. Any student who had taken the opportunity to practice previous exam questions and mock papers would have been happy with the choice provided. This section would have awarded any consistent working practical thinking student an easy thirty percent. It provided a nice introduction to the exam and would have settled any nervous student.

In section B there were some surprises in the layout and presentation of the questions. Static electricity appeared in question seven and wave nature of light was presented in question 10 and particle physics was available again this year in just half of the final questions. However the different layout did not imply a student unfriendly paper. The combination of different topic within question 11 should have posed no problems to the diligent student who covered the entire course. The paper allowed students the scope to apply their physics knowledge both theoretical and mathematical. The small number of surprises in format should not have posed a challenge for most students. By providing a wide diverse choice and covering most aspects of the syllabus students were able to gravitate towards their well-prepared sections and confidently navigate through the paper

While exams over previous years have placed a heavy focus on mathematical aspects of physics, this paper was more balanced and any well prepared student would have done well. The message from Leaving Cert physics 2019, is that students should not avoid physics on the basis of not having honours maths. Students partially girls often are afraid to take up physics because of its mathematical content. This paper gave students plenty of scope and choices to apply all their knowledge of scientific methods they have attained over the course of their studies to a well-structured paper.