This year’s Agricultural Science Leaving Cert exam was far from a “recall” paper, with a mix of challenging and topical questions that asked students to think. Students might have found themselves under pressure for time,said Michelle Herbert, a member of the Irish Agricultural Science Teachers’ Association.
“They really had to think,” Ms Herbert said. “There wasn’t as much biology as there has been in previous years and there was a good lot of questions that students would need to use some common sense to answer.
“The ordinary paper wasn’t too bad, there was a nice mix of questions. It read quite nicely but when it came down to the nitty-gritty, there would have been questions the students found difficult.”
For example, the first question referencing phylum might have thrown students, she said.
“When the paper opens with an easier question first, it can settle students, give them a bit of confidence."
TUI Agriculture Science representative Seamus Hynes described the higher level paper as “topical”. The drought last summer, the debate on the use of weedkillers and the environment all featured on the higher level paper, he added.
“There was an effort made to make the questions have some meaning to students,” he said.
“Overall, it was student friendly, understandable, topical but there was a lot of specific questions asked.”
Donal Power, an agricultural science teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said that this was a well thought out exam.
“It nicely incorporated issues such as the drought that [Irish] farmers experienced in summer 2018,” he said
Mr Power said he liked questions on beef production and genetics, while biology students would have been happy with a question that addressed photosynthesis, silage and microbiology.
The experiment question was straightforward, he added.
“The ordinary level paper would have been well-received by students,” said Mr Power. “As usual there was particular emphasis on the farm practice elements of the course with pigs, sheep and dairy cattle all featuring prominently.”
Meanwhile, more than 13,900 Junior Cert students sat their Technical Graphics exams on Monday morning, with a further 18,136 students taking the Materials Technology exam in the afternoon.