Secondary School Science can be a daunting subject for many students—covering Physics, Biology and Chemistry, it’s a big course with a lot of facts and definitions to remember. However, it doesn’t have to be so scary. The Junior Cycle Science curriculum is designed to help students understand science in the context of the world around them, using an evidence-based approach through research and action.
Science is found in all aspects of life, from food and drink to the screen you’re reading this sentence on. Junior Cycle students are expected to engage with a variety of scientific topics, which they will be assessed on in their third year.
In this article, we'll show you what to expect from the Junior Cycle Science final examination and share some tips and resources for revising this subject and achieving top marks in the final exam.
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The Junior Cycle Science exam
Students studying Science will complete two Classroom-Based Assessments throughout the school year and one Final Examination. Like other exams, the final Science examination takes place at the end of the third year of the Junior Cycle. This is designed to assess students' overall knowledge of the syllabus studied over the three years of the course. The exam is set and marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
The Science exam lasts for two hours and is studied at the Common level. This means that all students sitting this exam receive the same teaching, resources, Classroom-Based Assessments and Final Examination paper. This is different to the previous structure under the Junior Certificate format (now replaced by the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement) which split the Science curriculum into Ordinary and Higher levels differentiated by scientific skills and knowledge.
The content and format of the exam will be different every year. It is expected that students will engage with and respond to the stimulus material to demonstrate their understanding of the topics covered in the Junior Cycle Science curriculum.
What to expect in Junior Cycle Science exam papers
The Junior Cycle Science exam is divided into two sections—A and B—with a total of 360 marks available. Section A consists of 10 questions and is worth 150 marks. Section B consists of six questions and is worth 210 marks. Not all questions carry the same number of marks. Each question will state the number of marks available at the top. All of the questions in the paper must be answered.
Students should aim to spend 50 minutes of the exam time on Section A and 70 minutes on Section B. The questions in Section B generally require more complex answers and therefore take more time to complete.
A copy of the Formulae and Tables booklet is available to students in the exam. Students are not allowed to use their own copy, but must instead ask a superintendent for a copy which should be returned at the end of the exam.
The exam paper has spaces provided underneath the questions to write answers. The papers are scanned in order for examiners to mark the exams on screen. It's very important that students use black or blue pen (not pencil) to complete the exam, and write only in the answer boxes. Anything written outside of these boxes may not be visible to the examiner and could result in lost marks.
There is extra space available at the ends of Section A and Section B should students run out of lines when writing answers to questions. Anything written on these pages must be clearly labelled with the relevant question number and section to help the examiner place it within the paper and attribute marks accordingly.
How to revise for Junior Cycle Science exams
Any topic on the Junior Cycle Science curriculum could appear on the exam. The curriculum is divided into the following five topics:
Nature of Science
Earth and Space
The Nature of Science strand deals more with scientific techniques such as notetaking and evaluating experiments than specific knowledge that can be demonstrated in the exam. As such, it should be treated as the strand that links the remaining four topics and used to help students understand and answer questions. Students should revise the remaining topics carefully because any combination of them could appear on the exam.
While making notes and using visual cues will help memory and recall, revising Science doesn’t have to be all about cramming information or staring at formulae. There are a variety of resources available for expanding knowledge outside of textbooks, including documentary films and programmes, podcasts and museums. Science is an activity-based subject that requires engagement and participation, so carrying out small experiments at home or in the classroom will demonstrate how scientific theory works in practice.
It's incredibly helpful to complete past exam papers and sample papers during the revision process. Not only are these an opportunity to test knowledge, but it also helps with becoming familiar with the format of the exam. Sample papers can be used to practice timings, figure out how to prioritise questions worth the most marks, and get used to formulating answers that match the amount of space available in the paper.
Edco Science exam papers
There are 12 papers to practice with in the Edco New Junior Cycle Science Exam Papers pack. This includes the official SEC Final Examination Sample Paper and the 2019 SEC exam paper in addition to 10 sample papers created by Edco.
The solutions for the papers are available for free online so that students can check their work and learn from any wrong answers. Also included in the pack are resources to help students organise their revision schedule, optimise their written exam skills and map the progress of their study.
Other resources for revising Junior Cycle Science
The Smart Study Revision and Exam Guide includes exam paper overviews, suggested answers to the SEC sample paper and additional study and exam tips to help students maximise their marks.
Revise Wise Science Junior Cycle covers all sections of the exam in detail and includes a guide to the assessment structure so that students can also learn more about the Classroom-Based Assessments they will undertake for Science during the three years of the Junior Cycle.
Skill for Exam Success: Science is a brilliant resource for perfecting technique. It supports revision by using exam-style questions and clearly mapped learning outcomes to help students cover all of the topics on the curriculum.
Less Stress More Success Science Revision is a concise revision guide that includes sample questions and model answers to help maximise marks.
Firici Fillte - Eolaiocht - An Teastas Soisearach - Gnathleibheal & Ardleibheal is an Irish language revision guide that provides a concise overview of the Science curriculum which highlights keywords and definitions to support recall of essential information.