Chemistry (H): A Paper That Covered All Aspects

LC Chemistry H Analysis 2023

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2023 Chemistry (Higher Level) by Tara Lyons, Chemistry teacher at The Institute of Education.

  • A paper that covered all aspects of the Chemistry course, with lots of choice for students to pick their best topics.
  • Students will likely have left the exam feeling confident that the expected and prepared elements appeared.

The paper opens with three questions on the mandatory experiments. This section is usually mandatory, however due to COVID adjustments, students had the option to avoid it. Those who attempted them found a mostly straightforward blend of practical details, observations and stoichiometry. This would have been as expected by students, and those who practiced the 2017 paper might have even recognised Q1’s stoichiometric calculation. Elsewhere in this section, they veered away from rote learning to test the students’ ability to understand the underlying processes. Question 3 modified an element of the experiment and asked them to conclude a new result. While this particular question was novel, the approach is well-established within previous exams, so should not cause any shock or upset.

Section B remained true to form. The questions weren’t long-winded or wordy, choosing instead to be clear, pointed, and requiring concise answers. Question 4 covered a broad range of topics from all over the course but was the usual mix of atomic chemistry, definitions, stoichiometry, and organic chemistry. This combination was slightly more atomic heavy than previous years, but this should not pose any distinct challenge to the prepared student. Question 5 had questions on Atomic History and Electronegativity. The questions on the latter were clear and direct, not requiring reference to the given graph at all – a trend that can be seen elsewhere on the paper. Students will likely have been delighted with the appearance of Hess’ law in Question 6, on fuels and heats of reaction. Question 7 gave a topical spin on Acids and Bases with a reference to the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on nitrate and phosphate levels in Irish water sources.

The last four questions were also typical for Chemistry papers with the exception that students were not required to draw their own graphs. The Covid adjustments made the internal choices of questions 10 and 11, even more navigable than before. Students could thus avoid trickier or more puzzling questions. In particular, Question 11’s mentioning of the effect of decreasing activation energy, will puzzle many as activation energy cannot be decreased. With that being said, this was only a momentary pause in what was a broadly approachable paper.

A student who has revised past papers, is familiar with the specifics of a Chemistry exam and will find nothing new or surprising here. Those who put in the hard work can feel confident that this paper offered them a fair chance to succeed.