Leaving Cert chemistry: ‘tough’ exam with no room for ambiguity

Careful attention to questions needed in areas such as organic chemistry

Students required precision and attention to detail to work their way through a challenging Leaving Cert chemistry exam. Photo: iStock

Students required precision and attention to detail to work their way through a challenging Leaving Cert chemistry exam. Photo: iStock

 

Students required precision and attention to detail to work their way through a challenging paper, according to teachers.

Tara Lyons, chemistry teacher at the Institute of Education, said questions one questions one and two were “very manageable” and most students would have been comfortable with the familiar chemistry on the higher level paper. This “would help set them up for the rest of the paper”, according to Ms Lyons.

However, question 3 was more challenging, with much detail needed to secure the bulk of the marks.

Some expected topics came up such as organic chemistry in section B. Predicted questions on atomic theory, appeared, including atomic structure and its history. However some students may have thrown by the absence of water and its treatment from the paper.

Careful attention to questions was needed, with very specific answers required in areas such as organic chemistry.

“There was no room for ambiguity and an in-depth knowledge of reaction types, molecular structures and reagents was a must,” said Ms Lyons. While students did not need to write too much, there was a need for much calculation across all questions.

Ms Lyons explained in section B “equilibrium, pH and gas laws all required stoichiometric analysis”.

A addition to this topic saw a question on how the pigment in a painting had changed over the years.

Student reaction was mixed, with many finding the higher paper very tough, though the ordinary level was more straightforward.

A predicted 9,738 students sat the exam, with more than half of them female. The majority of students, 9,125, took the higher paper.

Try this at home:

From the ordinary level chemistry paper

(i) what is the modern definition of an element?

(ii) Name the Russian chemist who around 1869, drew up the first successful periodic table of the elements and predicted the properties of some of elements that had not been discovered at the time.