Assessment in Junior Cert Science – what a shambles; what a cod!

Here’s how to get 35% of your Junior Cert Science mark without having to learn any Science:

  1. Get the first 10% by having your lab book written up – it’s automatic and doesn’t necessarily mean you did any experiments. It certainly doesn’t mean you learnt anything; in fact if you missed out on any expeiments just copy them from somebody else and make up a date (try to ensure it was a day when the school was open).
    Technically we the teachers shuldn’t be signing off on this section unless we know it represents a fair reflection of the students’ actual work, but in practice this is rarely going to be the case. it may be that we see the results our students get as a reflection of our own teaching ability; we may have inherited the students from other teachers or indeed schools so may have no way of knowing how much of the previous work is legitimate; it may be a task too many for already busy teachers to monitor, particulary if the students themselves have little regard for the excercise or simply lack the necessary organisational skills to keep up to date themselves.
  2. Get the next 25% by having your two designated investiagations written up in the correct format. This isn’t very difficult and the average mark here is about 90%. The important thing to remember here is that it doesn’t matter how well you did the actual investigations or how clever your approach was (or indeed if you bothered to do the investigations yourself in  the first place) – all the marks here go for how you write it up.

If you think the final mark that students actually obtain may be somewhat inflated by the hoop-jumping above, you’re not alone. In fact some of us would go so far as to think it makes a mockery of the whole subject at this level.



  1. At last somebody calling it as it is. It’s a joke! Very disheartening to be a science teacher.

  2. I agree completely and not just because I am doing it this year 🙂 You can find everything on the investigation written up for you online, all you have to do is edit it slightly. And having to have the experiments all written down is just stupid. I was sick for a large part of last year and had to take hours of grinds to make up for it on top of all the work I already had to do, and just when I thought I was back on track I find out that I have to scribble out a load of experiments in the time I should be using to study!

  3. Hi Lea,
    thanks for taking the time to give your feedback – I think we need to listen to students more, particularly in relation to assessment and deciding what does and doesn’t work. I suspect it’s for reasons like this that the Junior Cert is about to undergo serious reform.

  4. While I understand what is being said, people who can still learn a lot from doing this coursework. Coursework A experiments often appear on the written exam, so if you make sure to learn the experiments as you are writing them, you will likely get more marks than people who just rushed their way through writing them out. Also, for Coursework B, you do actually learn new things from doing the investigation, and that’s the most important thing

  5. I agree with your sentiments entirely .

    Nothing of substance can be measured in this manner.

    It reminds me of the CSPE rameis where one kid phones the speaker, another kid answers the door, another brings the glass of water, another thanks the speaker etc …all in the name of learning how to invite a speaker to your school to give a talk. None of the kids learn anything!

    All this codology mirrors the endless guff spouted in School Plans, school reviews etc. All pretty meaningless hot air.

    Yes, the old “one size fits all” method of teaching the 3 Rs was wrong but continuous assessment of coursework will be a nightmare.


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