Agricultural Science (H): A fair paper with excellent choice

Agricultural Science Header

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2022 Agricultural Science (Higher Level) by Catriona Hendry, Agricultural Science teacher at The Institute of Education.

This is the second year that the new Agricultural Science syllabus has been examined.

It was a fair paper, and the format was as you would expect. There was nothing here to throw students.

Newer parts of the syllabus were represented well. We saw a heavy focus on the experiments, and that circled back to data handling, projects, and scientific methods.

There were multiple instances in both the short and long questions, where students were asked to handle data and numbers and perform calculations. If students had been revising with mock, sample and last year’s papers, they would have been well prepared for this.

This paper continues a trend towards questions where students are asked to read and then interpret information and diagrams.

Excellent choice due to Covid accommodations meant that there was something for everybody on this paper.

Section A- Short Questions

Students had to answer seven out of twelve questions in this section. Because of internal choice within some of the questions, they had a total of 16 questions to choose from.

There was an excellent choice and a wide array of topics covered, and well prepared students would have found seven questions that suited them here.

Question 1, a soil experiment question, and question 3, on soil temperature and germination, were both very nice.

Question 4 focused on avian flu and then segued into a question about biosecurity with reference to animal disease. This question was nice and topical and slightly different from the norm and would have benefited any students who keep their eyes on agricultural news.

In question 7 students had to perform a calculation. This would have been a nice question for students confident with basic data handling.

Question 9 had internal choice, but both options were quite tough. Part a was to do with animal digestion. This is quite a small topic on the course and some students may have glossed over it in their revision.

Students will have been pleased to see the standard question on crops appearing in question 10.

Section 2- Long Questions

Throughout this section, the use of synoptic questions meant that multiple topics were nicely combined. Because of the synoptic structure however, it was important that students read questions right to the very end before they started.

Question 13 was a nice, overall question on grassland management, which is a big part of the course. It also covered plant identification, the growth cycle of plants, plant uniformity, reseeding grassland and sustainability.

Question 14a was a slightly more challenging question about animal enterprises, Students would need to be happy with data handling, and to have known their milk composition compared with colostrum composition well, as well as young animal care and management.

The other choice in this question, question 14d covered animal housing and welfare, and faecal analysis for sheep. These are marginal parts of the animal topics on the course and students might have found it challenging to answer a whole question on them.

Some of the longer questions focused on newer parts of the syllabus. For example, question 15 had a significant portion on biotechnology, and in question 17, both options dealt with newer aspects of genetics.

Students will have been very pleased to see a rotational grazing diagram in question 16. The question focused on the scientific method, which is a significant part of the course, and is related to the project they do in Senior Cycle.