Reaction to Leaving Cert 2023 Biology (Higher Level) by Wesley Hammond, Biology teacher at The Institute of Education.
- Students familiar with the past papers will be delighted.
- A wide-ranging paper that allows students to navigate by their strengths.
- A heavy emphasis on Human Biology and Reproduction, both plant and human.
This was a very fair paper with very few surprises. Thanks to the ample choice afforded, students would have been able to answer a full paper while avoiding less popular topics completely. There was great clarity within many questions, both in terms of phrasing and focus, as there was minimal mixing of topics. Those who put in the effort to get a thorough grasp of every part of the topics will find this paper a fantastic opportunity to prove that to the examiner. There were of course trickier questions, but those who took the time to read through the paper will have been able to navigate them.
Some questions did have a sting in their tail, particularly in the latter part of the paper. Section C had many moments that tested the finer details of topics in a way that would really distinguish the H1/H2 students. For example, the Ecology question’s demand on the Nitrogen and Carbon cycles will have turned off many who may have previously expected to do that question. Other questions were rather verbose or wordy in a way that would likely be off putting for a weaker student. However, on careful reading, these sections were very manageable if you gave yourself the moment of composure.
While much of this paper was anticipated, there were a few surprises – both positive and negative. The debut appearance of a question on the function of apparatus for surveying animals in Section B might have given students pause; they wouldn’t have recognised it from their revision. While on the other hand those who studied Reproduction (both human and plant), which makes up only two chapters of course, will find that they could answer 30% of the paper.
Ultimately, this was a very student-friendly paper. Some students will have noticed an almost word-for-word reiteration of previous exam questions. The frequent use of diagrams and graphs will have helped students visualise the question in a way that makes them less abstract and more accessible. While in places it was a little tougher than last year, a prepared student will have met a paper that posed no shocks or upsets.