Chemistry (H): A Fair Paper With No Major Surprises

Leaving Certificate Chemistry (H) Review

Reaction to 2024 Leaving Certificate Chemistry (Higher Level) by Enda Dowd, Chemistry teacher at The Institute of Education.


  • A fair paper with no major surprises as questions remained true to form. 
  • Students familiar with past papers should feel confident in their performance as the language of the paper was more approachable than previous years. 

Section A as always is based on the mandatory experiments and students will have been relieved to find experiments asked that were very much expected. Q1 was based on the vinegar titration, which had not appeared since 2016, meaning students will have expected it to appear and will have had it well prepared. Q2 was a mix of a number of Organic Chemistry experiments as opposed to questions on just one experiment. This has been a trend in past years so shouldn’t have been a surprise to students. Students may have been expecting questions on the steam distillation of clove oil and on the oxidation of phenylmethanol but they didn’t appear and they may have been surprised by questions that did arise on the recrystallisation of benzoic acid, given similar questions were asked in 2022. It emphasizes the importance of students having a broad grasp of all of the experiments and not trying to guess what might come up as they may get caught out. Q3 was based on rates of reactions, with the usual style of plotting and interpreting a graph. Questions for the most part throughout section A were quite straight forward and students that had their past paper questions well-practiced will have found them familiar and approachable, feeling confident that they could reflect their preparatory work. 

This sense of continuity of form continued into Section B which was presented in a very familiar style. In general questions were asked in a clear, concise manner with fewer awkwardly phrased questions on the paper than in previous years. This meant that students did not need to contend with tricky comprehension tasks before launching into the Chemistry. Q4 covered a range of topics from throughout the course, as is normal, giving students good choice as they only needed 8 of the 12 options. Therefore, even if a student struggled to “name three homologous series of organic compounds in that contain a carbonyl group” this would not hinder a shot at full marks. Q5’s Atomic Chemistry question examined Bohr and Heisenberg, with questions that have been seen before. Students will hopefully have been very pleased with Q6 on fuels and Q7 on Chemical Equilibrium, as they presented the same types of questions as have appeared on the previous papers. There was no surprise or twist to upset, so these were a fair test of the material and exam preparation. 

Q8 on Organic Chemistry is usually a question that students find challenging but this year’s addition was more friendly, with the description of the free radical substitution mechanism being asked. This was not a surprise as it had not been asked extensively in recent years. Students not hugely confident with their maths may have found some parts of Q9 challenging as it required them to calculate changes in pH and concentrations of monobasic acids, and so might have avoided it. Q10 and Q11 are those questions with some internal choice and students again should not have had much difficulty here, as the majority of questions were reminiscent of what has been asked in the past. As has been the trend, there was more Organic Chemistry and Atomic Chemistry asked here with reasonably straightforward questions, meaning that there doubts about what specific skills were being tested. The stoichiometry question was quite approachable this year, similar to questions students will have practiced in class, after a number of years where it had been less friendly and only accessible to students more adaptable to thinking outside the box and with a higher level of maths proficiency. 

Overall, this was a very fair paper with no major surprises and students that were well-prepared should have had little issue with answering eight good questions with eleven to choose from. It covered a wide range of topics from the course, giving students ample choice. Students that were well-versed in practicing their past papers questions will feel confident coming out of the exam, as the majority of questions remained true to form. The language of the paper was clear and approachable, more so than in some previous years.