"Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order."

Sydney Brenner

Before we get started on this article I feel it is important to mention that due to academic destruction caused by COVID-19 the past two years there have been no junior cycle exams. The junior cycle course was solely graded on the class-based assessments. But that does not mean knowing what comes up on the exams won't be useful, in fact, past papers are one of the best tools when it comes to studying a subject. Especially if the exams return in 2022 in early summer.

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What is Junior Cycle Science about?

Simply put, studying this course will help students to develop an evidence-based understanding of the natural world. It will increase their ability to gather and evaluate evidence and to make them more self-aware as learners, which in turn will lead to students becoming more competent and confident in their ability to use and apply science in their everyday lives.

Over three years students will study the following five strands:

  1. The Nature of Science
  2. The Physical World
  3. The Chemical World
  4. The Biological World
  5. Earth and Space
Science experiment
As part of your assessments for junior cycle science, you will get to take part in loads of fun and fascinating experiments Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

Are Junior Cert Past Exam Papers the Same as Junior Cycle Exam Papers?

The short answer to this question is no.

The junior cert exam papers are not exactly the same as the junior cycle papers, this is mostly down to the fact that the new junior cycle is studied at a common level, which means all students have access to the same resources and lessons, and there is only one common level exam. Whereas in the old junior cert, students either studied at an ordinary level or a higher level, which meant they for thought different lessons and had different resources, they also sat different exams.

However, with that being said past junior cert exam papers or actually an excellent study tool as you prepare for your exam in the junior cycle. The past papers won't be formatted the same as the new junior cycle papers, but that doesn't mean you won't come across similar questions. You might come across questions asking for the same equations or formulas as you would in the new papers. I would definitely recommend using old ordinary level junior cert science exam papers.

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What is the New Junior Cycle Science Exam Like?

As mentioned above, the current junior cycle Science exam is that at the common level. This means that students will study the same curriculum course over three years. regardless of their scientific aptitude. Due to the fact that regular class-based assessments will take place as part of the junior cycle science grading system, there's only one exam for everyone to take.

The science exam in junior cycle it's worth a total of 360 marks, and it takes place over two hours. Of course in some situations students may be granted extra time to complete their exam, a scribe to help them with the reading and writing and in some cases, you may even get an exemption for certain subjects, like languages if you have dyslexia. If you have physical or intellectual difficulties and feel you would benefit from some of these allowances, you should talk with your teacher and see what their advice is, they might be able to help you sort what assistance you need for exams.

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

Stephen Hawking

Physics experiment
Studying science at a common level and junior cycle it's actually really beneficial means that all students have access to the same resources and lessons Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What Comes Up in the Junior Cycle Science Exam?

In the exam for junior cycle science, you will be asked questions on the following four strands:

  1. The Physical World
  2. The Chemical World
  3. The Biological World
  4. Earth and Space

It is worth noting that the nature of science strand is not on this list. The reason for this is the nature of science Strand is more about the techniques and skills which you will have learnt trek to 3 years of this course, such as notetaking, evaluation, experiments and giving evidence/scientific proof. The nature of science strand, is the interlinking section for the other four strands, it and see with the tools necessary to answer questions about them and understand them.

What Are the Junior Cycle Science Exam Questions Like?

There are two parts to the junior cycle science exam, in your exam paper they will be called section A and section B.

Think of section A as your short questions. There are 10 questions with a total of 150 marks. You do have to answer all questions in the section. Below we will take a little look at what the questions in this section might look like.

Example:

The passage below explains how a cell gets the materials it needs for respiration. The names of five parts of the body are missing from the passage.

Here are the missing body parts: Heart, Veins, Small intestine, Stomach, Lungs

In the spaces provided, write the names of the missing body parts.

Sample science question
Sample questions and past junior cert papers are a great way to practice for your exam and junior cycle science

The questions in section B are more detailed and require more specific answers which is why they are worth more marks. In this section, there are only 6 questions but they are worth a total of 210 marks. Again, you must answer all questions in the section.

Below we are going to take a look at an example of what the questions in this section might look like.

Example:

Citric acid is a chemical found in lemons and some other fruits. It is a white crystalline solid when pure. Solid citric acid may be dissolved in water to make a citric acid solution.

(a) Describe how to make up a solution that contains 5 g of citric acid dissolved in 100ml of water. As part of your description, name each piece of equipment you would use. (A labelled diagram may help your answer.)

Baking soda is another white solid compound. Its chemical name is sodium hydrogen carbonate. It is often used in making bread and cake. When baking soda is added to a test tube of the citric acid solution, fizzing occurs and a gas is produced.

(b) A student holding the test tube notices that it cools down during the reaction. Is this reaction an example of an endothermic or an exothermic reaction? Explain your answer.

This reaction is also an example of an acid‐base reaction. When baking soda is added to a test tube of the citric acid solution, the chemicals react and the pH of the solution changes.

(c) Would you expect the pH of the solution in the test tube to increase or decrease during the
reaction? Explain your answer.

(d) Describe how you could investigate how pH changes during the reaction.

 scientific research table
The earth and space strand of the junior cycle science can allow you to explore things such as astrology and geology which deals with the physical structure and substance of the earth, their history, and their processes. - Image by Brenda Geisse from Pixabay

As you can see there is quite a difference between section A and section B question formats.

Although there are a lot more questions in section A, and you do have to answer all 10,  you are only required to answer a little piece on each, not all the answers in the section are written either they may be a drawing or a diagram or even a chart.

Whereas in section be your answers are doing in parts, you could have anywhere between one and five parts to answers, and they will be a mixture of drawings charts and written answers. However, there are only six of these which you have to answer and each one is worth around 30 marks.

The junior cycle science exam has been designed to allocate you enough time to answer all of these questions, you should even have some time over to check your answers and go back over any questions you may have struggled with earlier in the exam. For more samples of past papers for both the junior cycle science and junior cert science exams I recommend you check out the following link just click here.

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Maureen

Hey, I'm Maur/Mo, I'm a writer from Ireland. I've written a novel and a lot of poetry and fiction. Currently, I work as a content writer at superprof