First exam of new biology course criticised

AS with the first exam in the new senior cycle home economics syllabus last Friday, there were criticisms of the first test of the new biology course yesterday.

Many Leaving Certificate students found the higher level paper much more difficult than expected.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) biology spokesperson Lily Cronin agreed the paper appeared to be very difficult. “As it’s a new syllabus, we only had one official sample paper and we had to source any other sample questions from different textbooks or the internet,” she said. “The paper was more challenging than the sample one, it was very wordy and there could have been more diagrams.”

Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) biology spokesperson Tim O’Meara agreed that the paper was demanding, although he felt there were no real surprises for students who had studied well. His only criticism was about the poor quality of diagrams. He and Ms Cronin said the ordinary level paper should not have created difficulties as it was similar to sample papers and examined a broad range of the syllabus. There were fewer complaints about Leaving Certificate business, although it was described by some people as a long and challenging exam.

ASTI business spokesperson Luke Glynn said there was a good choice of questions, but those which asked about taxation credit and the Director of Equality Investigations (DEI) were a bit difficult. He said there was good choice in the short questions on the ordinary level paper, which he described as testing but fair. Brenda O’Donovan of the Business Studies Teachers Association of Ireland (BSTAI) agreed about the choices, but felt students needed to show a lot of knowledge of the syllabus for this level.

She said the higher level paper was challenging but fair, particularly liking a topical applied business question about an eastern European man starting a business here.

The TUI’s business spokesperson Pat Fleming said some higher level students did not have time to finish and might have been puzzled by the question about the DEI because the relevant law came after the new syllabus.

The Junior Cert business studies first paper for higher level students gave a chance to show off their skills, according to TUI’s subject spokesperson Ivan O’Callaghan. However, the afternoon paper was long and students, looking for non-accounting questions, would have found it hard.

Pat Morris, ASTI’s business studies rep, said the short questions in the morning paper showed the examiners were not out to catch students and there were no surprises in the long questions. He said the first three questions in the afternoon paper were all on expected topics. His only worry for ordinary level students was that they would be able to answer five questions, given the hot weather and fatigue from a week of exams.

BSTAI’s subject spokesperson Norah Martyn said the biggest complaint about the morning paper was that the expense account was not presented in the T-account format taught in most schools. She said the longer questions were mostly predictable and the afternoon paper had some questions in which the number of points required was demanding.

TOMORROW: Reviews of Leaving Cert Accounting and Technical Drawing; Junior Cert Religious Education and Science.

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