Leaving Cert physics, chemistry and accounting papers

Final week of Leaving Cert for 14,000 students coincides with start of heatwave

The final week of the Leaving Cert has coincided with the start of a mini-heatwave, leaving more than 14,000 students sitting physics, physics and chemistry or accounting, with just one option – avoid looking out the window and hope the sun is still shining when their exams come to an end.

This year, 7,404 students sat the physics paper. Pat Doyle, a teacher at the Institute of Education, said that the higher level exam was fair and balanced with nothing nasty or unexpected. "In section A, the last part of each question was a little tricky and required a deeper understanding of the physics involved," said Doyle. "Section B will have rewarded a hard-working student."

Expected lines

Ger Curtin, ASTI subject representative and a physics teacher at Beneavin College in Finglas, Dublin, agreed that the paper was “very much along expected lines”.

In section A of the paper, students wrote about practical experiments which they would have conducted in their school laboratories. “A new syllabus is being prepared at the moment and it may be a good idea to allow students to be examined on their practical experiments in class rather than in the exam,” Mr Curtin suggested.


He noted a trend to include questions which show the relevance of physics to life, with topics on this year’s higher-level paper including touchscreen technology and blood- pressure monitors. “The era of sound, but dour, papers is over,” he said.

The ordinary level paper was described as "doable and fairly straightforward, with routine questions on topics including light and mechanics". Meanwhile, 6,130 students sat the accounting exam. Peter Quinn, a teacher at St Flannan's College in Clare, said it was a generally demanding subject and that this year's higher level paper was a "fair test" of student ability.

Cash-flow questions

Arthur Russell, a physics teacher at the Institute of Education, said some students may have been surprised by the appearance of questions on cash flow, published accounts and marginal costing, but there were other options. "Overall, students who spent time preparing with past papers will have been very pleased."

Mr Quinn said ordinary level students would have been pleased with the physics paper, although they may have expected a different approach for the question on budgeting.

In all, 491 students sat the combined physics and chemistry exam.