I am not happy with the Leaving Cert Physics exam. In a nutshell – it’s too hard. The vast majority of the questions come from material teachers cover in sixth year, and the closer you get to the end of the course, the more popular the exam questions. Nothing wrong with this so far, except when you consider that this often represents the most difficult sections of the course. And never forget that Physics is a difficult subject to come to terms with at the best of times. So many concepts are very, very counter-intuitive. After all, only one civilisation ever accepted it as a means of generating knowledge about the world around us.
Even if you look at some of the material that we do cover in fifth year, the questions on this in recent years have been very, very difficult. Optics is usually the first thing we cover and yet, based on the questions on this topic that appeared in 2011 12 (b) and 2012 12 (b), I now have A students who swear they won’t go near the topic if they see it on the paper this June.
Which is why the following document seems is very popular with students (particularly those struggling a little with the subject).
It looks at the pattern of questions that have appeared since the syllabus first came into existence in 2002 and allows you to decide what questions to focus on.
For example Static Electricity and Capacitance are two short chapters, and they have appeared every year since 2002 as a half question, with the exception of last year, so expect them to make an appearance this year.
Electromagnetic Induction came up every year from 2002 to 2008 as either a full or a half-question. It hasn’t appeared since 2008 however. Expect it to appear as either a half or a full question.
The Electron has appeared on 9 of the last 11 years. Nuclear Physics (that’s Radioactivity and the atom, along with Fission, Fusion and Nuclear Energy) has appeared every year as either a half or a full question.
You can see similar patterns for other topics listed in the document. The important point is that, assuming you’re going to do Question 5 (series of short questions which cover the entire course, with choice built in) and Question 10 (Particle Physics; comes up every year) then you really just need 3 questions from the remaining 6 (and one of these is Question 12, which offers a choice of 2 parts from 4).
Every year since 2002 you would have been able to answer a full paper by just learning the topics below (and usually with some choice to spare).
You still need to cover all Mandatory Experiments for Section A, and all definitions for Question 5, but if you’re a D or C student it would be highly advisable to use this as your guide. If you’re looking for the A then you really need to cover all topics on the course to cover yourself for all eventualities.