Reaction to Leaving Cert 2017 Biology (Higher Level) by Mona Murray, Biology teacher at The Institute of Education
Overall a challenging paper that covered every corner of the course. An inventive paper, wide ranging in its content. It looked easy on the surface, but each question required a lot of detail. A number of different sections of the course were combined in questions. These made odd bedfellows and the level of detail required for each was high. Nice to see topical issues such as the Poolbeg Incinerator and the Zika Virus appearing on the paper. This shows students that biology is not just in the text books.
Section A: Short Questions:
Some of these questions were very detailed, and students needed to provide a lot of information in their answers.
There was a nice diagram of the cell membrane, which was very clear.
Section B: (Experiments):
Question 7 was a very nice one on ecology. Students were asked to draw a food web, the first time this has been asked. This would require a lot of memory work and the question would have stretched the students a lot.
There would have been smiles all round for the Enzyme question in Question 8. This has never been asked but was hoped for.
Question 9 was very extensive, with 5 separate questions in one.
Section C: (Long Questions):
It was nice to see a question on the Poolbeg Incinerator in the ecology question. It was a novel twist on the ecology question, and it is good to see current events being brought in to the paper.
Question 11, on plants, was a very challenging question made up of two totally different aspects of the course.
Question 12 was a straight forward question mainly on DNA. Many students will be very disappointed that only a small part of the question was on genetics. Students would have spent a great deal of time studying this topic.
Question 13 was a novel question in relation to photosynthesis.
It was also nice to see a question on the topical issue of the Zika virus in Question 14.