Leaving Cert 2022: Physics higher level ‘designed to separate out the H1 and H2 students’


A challenging and clever paper that was designed to separate out the H1 and H2 students, was how teacher Pat Doyle described the Leaving Cert physics higher level paper.

r Doyle, of The Institute of Education, Dublin, said students who had worked hard and covered the entire course in their revision would be rewarded.

He spotted a typo in Q12a, which was about two scientists, Walton and Cockcroft. Walton is the only Irish person to win a Nobel Prize for Physics. The question stated that the protons were accelerated through a potential difference of 70kV, whereas Mr Doyle said it should have been 700kV.

He said that “despite the introduction being flawed, students would still have been able to complete the question, and a really good student might have spotted the mistake.”

Mr Doyle noted that the extra choice on the paper but added that the mixture of topics in some questions could have caused difficulties for students who had not covered the entire syllabus in their revision. He cited questions 5, 11, 13 and 14b, as those where candidates could have found themselves seriously limited for choice.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject representative, John Conneely, thought it a “very fair” paper.

Mr Conneely, of St Flannan’s College, Ennis, Co Clare, said students were given a very nice start with the Section A experimental questions, which were “very much in line with the present clear and concise physics syllabus.” Like all Leaving Cert papers in 2022, students had more choice and had to answer two from five questions here, instead of the traditional three from four.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject representative Tom Dixon thought it “overall a nice paper”, but said students may have found the wording on questions 2 and 5 a “bit tricky as it was different from what they would normally see, but other than that they were nice.”

In Section B, the long questions, candidates were required to answer four from nine questions, instead of five from eight.

Mr Dixon, of Maynooth Post Primary School, Co Kildare, thought some students may have found Q7, “tricky” while Mr Doyle said the question would have been very nice for any students doing applied maths.

On the other hand, Mr Dixon said it was “nice to get a full 56-marker question on semi-conductors” in Q8.

In this section, Mr Conneely thought Q13 featuring polymath Christiaan Huygens was “challenging” while Mr Doyle said while it was a mix of two topics, light and mechanics, it was a “nice enough” question. Mr Doyle said the mix might have thrown some students.

Mr Conneely said questions 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were all “very fair”.

He described Q11, as “an excellent example of how physics can cross over into other disciplines, in this case of archaeology”. Here, students were asked to apply their higher order thinking skills to a bronze age fluacht fiadh, a method whereby a large container of water was heated by using hot stones.

Mr Doyle, described Q11, a mixture of heat, sound and radioactivity, as an “easy question”, but said “it could have caused problems for students who had left out parts of the course in their revision”. Mr Dixon said the mix here might have thrown some students.

While Mr Doyle noted the typo in Q 12(a), Mr Conneely regarded Q12 (a) as “very fair” and said Q14 was balanced and fair, with a good choice for students. Mr Doy welcomed the full question, Q12, on particle physics and said students “would not have had any difficulty in doing it”.

Mr Doyle said more thought perhaps could have been put into the wording of Q14b, which included a picture of the Eiffel Tower. “From looking at the photo, the toy could collide with the tower, which would impact on what would happen in the question. The idea behind the question was clever however,” he said. Mr Dixon commented that at “least three of the four parts of the question were nice” and students only had to answer two.

At ordinary level, Mr Conneely described it as “a fair paper, with a good choice of questions” while Mr Dixon said the experiments were nice and there was good spread in the long questions.

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