Biology (H): A Traditional Paper That Examined The Students’ Grasp Of The Fundamentals Of Biology

Biology Higher Level Leaving Certificate Reaction

Reaction to 2024 Leaving Certificate Biology (Higher Level) by Róisín Doyle, Biology teacher at The Institute of Education.


  • Plenty of choice and well-phrased questions made this paper very student-friendly
  • Students who put in the hard work with past papers will feel their efforts pay off.


Opening the paper, students were greeted by a nice question on the expected topic of Food. This was clear and focused on a single subtopic, so there was no jumping around the topic necessary. This would have helped them settle into a very manageable paper with few sticky moments to catch them out. Question 2 asked the fundamentals of the scientific method, a core idea echoed later in the experiments of Section B. Question 3 had a fabulously clear diagram of the human alimentary canal and concise questions that were utterly unambiguous. Students often favour human biology in their exam preparation, but they would not see the topic again until questions 16 and 17. Venturing further, the True/False statements of Question 5 were DNA heavy. One moment that posed an interesting challenge was the comparative terms of Question 6, in particular part C’s “carpal” vs. “carpel”. The connection between these two is purely a matter of literacy with no underlying biological connection, so that partnering may have puzzled them for a moment.

The experiments in Section B balanced an unexpected approach with an abundance of opportunities to prove knowledge. While students might not have expected the precise approach of the question, an emphasis on the procedural method meant that a few forgotten steps could be compensated for by a surplus of information. The most novel questions were 12 and 14. In particular 12 B asked students to think beyond the usual scope of the course when interpreting the questions. Additionally Question 14 (A)(i) asked something that had never previously appeared in this phrasing, and so students might be unsure of exactly how to approach it. However, these were individual instances in a very broad exam with lots of choice, so students would be unlikely to get stuck on them. The majority of the paper was a traditional Biology exam in how it approached its layout, topics and questions.


Students who put in the work to thoroughly revise past exams, both the June and deferred papers, will feel that their work paid off. The diagram in Question 7 looks daunting but will be familiar from the 2022 deferred paper. Questions 11 and 16 bore a striking resemblance to questions on last years’ paper. While many avoid the former’s topic of Plant Reproduction, those who practice that paper will have been pleased. For students who put in the hard work, their efforts were validated here.

This should be a great confidence boost for the rest of the exams.