Junior Cert home economics: Some questions more suited to Leaving Cert

Students faced ‘very challenging’ higher level exam

Junior Cert students in Dublin exam hall. many had a ‘very challenging’ home economics exam. Photograph: Eric Luke

Junior Cert students in Dublin exam hall. many had a ‘very challenging’ home economics exam. Photograph: Eric Luke


Students faced a very challenging higher level home economics paper with some “very taxing” questions, teachers have said.

Margaret Kent, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Loreto Secondary School in Fermoy, Co Cork, said that the paper required students to have a broad knowledge of the entire course.

“It was best suited to a student who could integrate their home economics knowledge with their general health knowledge and draw from areas of the social, personal and health education (SPHE) course. Higher order thinking was required.”

Kate Hehir, TUI subject representative and a teacher at St Michael’s Community College, Kilmihil, Co Clare, agreed that the paper was challenging.

“The short questions would have really tested the higher level candidate, who would want to have revised well,” she said.

‘Very tough’

Both teachers felt that a full question on diabetes was very tough on students. “This would usually appear on a senior cycle paper and I think there was too much required here for a junior cycle student,” said Ms Kent.

Ms Hehir felt a question on the microwave was “exacting” and required students to know the topic very well.

Both teachers agreed that another one of the long questions, on advertising and consumer rights , was very challenging.

Ms Hehir said it was “very taxing”, while Ms Kent said that asking them to list four different techniques to advertise luxury goods was slightly excessive, “as their knowledge of luxury goods would be limited.”

Both teachers liked “straightforward” questions on the human tooth, nutritional differences between white and brown bread and, and sewing.

Ms Kent said, however, that the paper made good use of diagrams and symbols.

“This would have helped jog their memories, particularly now that we’re into week two of the exams and students may be getting tired. The short questions on sustainability and climate were very welcome, too,” she said.

Ordinary level

The ordinary level paper also made good use of diagrams, said Ms Kent. “There were nice questions on identifying the freshness of an egg by dropping it in water and seeing if it sinks or floats (fresh eggs sink), how to encourage children to eat more fruit and factors to consider when buying a smoothie blender,” she said.

“A question on why young people start to smoke and why it is harmful was very welcome, as research shows that they often start in second or third year of secondary school.”

This is the penultimate year of the current home economics curriculum. From 2021, all students will sit a common level exam, with a cookery project rising to 50 per cent of the marks.

Try this at home:

- Junior Cert home economics, higher level

(a) Outline the functions of advertising goods and services.

(b) (i) Name four different advertising techniques used by companies to market luxury goods. (ii) Choose one technique named and explain why you think it is effective.

(c) Describe how the Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Consumer Information Act 1978) provides protection to the consumer.

(d) Suggest a different advantage to the consumer for each of the following: (i) loss-leader pricing (ii) bulk buying (iii) credit buying