Leaving Cert Ag Science Students
That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, spoke to ‘The Ag Science Teacher’, who provided top tips for agricultural science students ahead of the 2023 Leaving Certificate.
“The agricultural science curriculum was updated, and the new specification was first examined in 2021. Due to COVID accommodations, the specification has yet to be examined as it was originally intended.
The 2023 cohort will again benefit from accommodations, as they will have increased choice in section A, with 12 questions to choose from instead of 10.
And also, in section B with six questions to choose from instead of 4.
However, a big change to the examination style of the subject is that questions can span across topics rather than the traditional one topic per question.
This means that the 2023 cohort, like their predecessors in 2022, will have increased choice but not necessarily decreased revision.
So, what is the best way to study?
- Know your exam paper
Before you even practice your questions, understand what is required to be answered in each section.
Section A: Short answer questions
10 marks per question, and you must answer any 10. Take your time to read through these and make your choices carefully.
Section B: Long answer questions
50 marks per question, and you must answer any 4. This is where serious marks can be lost or gained. Take your time to read through these at the start of the exam and make your choices carefully.
- Practice exam questions
Use websites like www.examinations.ie and www.studyclix.ie or a printed book of exam papers from EDCO to practice answering questions.
This is the best way to assess where you are struggling and what you need to spend more time revising.
- Read the question
Not only are you looking for WHAT it is asking you but also HOW the question should be answered.
List/state etc. – fine to give a one-word answer.
Describe/outline/explain etc. – you must expand on your answer.
Try to use the word because in your answer to these questions, as it will force you to add an explanation.
- Revise the SPAs
Specified practical activities are one of the new features of the agricultural science curriculum.
They have been asked an average of 5 times per paper in the previous state and mock exam papers.
This makes them a potential gold mine in terms of collecting marks, as there are only 22 in total to study.
They are all summarised in a set of flashcards I have created, which are available to view via this link.
- Keep up-to-date with media
Take a break, have a cup of tea, and read some farming articles from farming press, including That’s Farming.
Or watching agricultural-related programmes such as Ear to the Ground will all help with your overall understanding of agriculture and could benefit you when answering some of the media-related exam questions.
Media is used on average four times per paper, and so it is a huge benefit if you have read it previously.
Quizzes can help students by allowing them a break from the books whilst still partaking in revision.
Studyclix have some premade quizzes for all of the topics to be revised.
However, why not make some of your own quiz questions at the end of a unit of study?
Apps such as Quizlet allow you to make and store your quiz questions. Come back to them a week later and check your understanding.
Using summary pages from your notes or textbook to make a poster is another way of revising that allows a bit of a break.
All the time you are doodling your information, you are still allowing your brain to absorb the key points.
Even better, use the posters to decorate your room and as you pass them, another snippet of information or two may be absorbed.
Flashcards have always been a winner when it comes to revision.
Design your own flashcards with small amounts of information on each card.
This method breaks your revision into smaller chunks, essentially tricking your brain into thinking it does not have as much to remember.
Alternatively, write flashcards with a question on one side and the answer on the other.
These are ideal for allowing someone else to quiz you on your understanding.
You study them for 20 minutes and then pass them to your study partner, who can quiz you, even if they do not study ag science, as the answers are on the back.
- Do not forget your calculator
As an examiner, it is really disheartening to see the number of students who do not answer the maths-based questions.
It is worth remembering that this is ag science maths and not your Leaving Cert maths. The questions are nowhere near as hard and are very much real-life farming maths.
Clear your mind of your maths-related fears and read the question again; chances are you will find that you will be able to complete it.
- Remember your exam is only 75%
The individual investigative study is worth 25% and will be handed in two months before you even sit your exam.
If you spend some time now ensuring that you gain as many marks as possible in this, you can feel more confident when it comes to sitting your written exam.
You can download a FREE checklist to help you assess your IIS via this link.”