Leaving Cert biology: all the bankers appear but smaller topics feature heavily

Students who cut corners by leaving out topics in their revision were punished

Students at Mount Carmel Secondary School, King’s Inns Street, Dublin, discuss their exams. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Students at Mount Carmel Secondary School, King’s Inns Street, Dublin, discuss their exams. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Students faced a wide-ranging biology paper which tested them and provided a thorough test of almost all aspects of the curriculum, teachers have said.

“It covered a huge variety and would have punished students who cut corners by leaving out certain topics in their revision,” said Luke Saunders, a biology teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Co Sligo and subject expert with exam revision website Studyclix.ie.

“All the bankers such as respiration, photosynthesis, genetics and ecology appeared, but so too did a lot of the more topics such as bacteria and the nervous system.

“Despite it being a broad-ranging paper, the questions were for the most part relatively straightforward. Questions on ecology and evolution could quite easily have appeared on an ordinary level paper.”

Mr Saunders said question 13a, which asked students to name “biologically active entities” that contain only one type of nucleic acid, was “clunky” and that the marking scheme needed to reflect this.

Fair overall

Lily Cronin, ASTI subject representative, said the paper was fair overall and that most students will have been pleased.

She was happy with the section on experiments and said questions on respiration, genetics and evolution would have been welcomed by students.

The ordinary level paper, meanwhile, was well presented. “There were good diagrams which is always important, and a good range of questions,” said Ms Cronin.

“The DNA and genetics question was particularly good.”

Jean Kelly, a biology teacher at the Institute of Education, said the ordinary level paper featured a wide range of topics and students would have to be familiar with all aspects of the course.

Try this at home: Leaving Cert biology

“Q11(b) (i) Draw a diagram to show the structure of the human heart and associated blood vessels, labelling each of the following: Vena cava; tricuspid valve; aorta; left ventricle; semi-lunar valve; pulmonary artery.

(ii) - State the precise location and describe the role of the sinoatrial node; and state the precise location and describe the role of the atrioventricular node.

(iii) What exactly is being measured when a person’s blood pressure is taken?