EducationExam reaction

Leaving Cert physical education: a contemporary exam, but students challenged for time

Candidates may have found themselves challenged to up the pace and take section A at a sprint

07/06/2024 - The exam hall at Lucan Community College. exams, Leaving Certificate, Junior Certificate stock Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The Leaving Cert physical education (PE) exam was rooted in contemporary issues, but students were under pressure to complete the paper, teachers have said.

William Browne, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty, said that students came out of the paper with smiles on their faces.

“A lot of it links back to the knowledge they had from past and sample papers. There was nothing unexpected.”

Both Mr Browne and Brian Gregan, a PE teacher at the Institute of Education, said that students may have struggled to complete all of the paper.


“Students sitting the exam may have found themselves challenged to up the pace and take section A at a sprint,” Mr Gregan said.

“While this section is all short questions, many needed longer answers than normal. Time management might have been an issue as students rushed to get their knowledge on the page. This paper gave them lots of chances to show off what they knew as it covers a great variety of topics, so everyone should have found something.”

Mr Browne said that the paper, at 150 minutes, is the same length as many other papers, despite only accounting for 50 per cent of the student’s overall marks.

Irish athletes were a motif of the paper, said Mr Gregan.

“Question one mentioned Cork gymnast Meg Ryan, and asked about the ‘aesthetic and/or artistic criteria of performance’. This question may be unappealing to some but attests to the broad scope of the course material.

“Question five saw Hannah Tyrell’s skills acknowledged and paired with some very good questions that were well-practised by students.

“It was great to see another Irish athlete, Rhasidat Adeleke, used as a great example of someone applying these concepts to a phenomenal degree.”

Mr Browne agreed that students have plenty of opportunity to refer to contemporary athletes, teams and favoured sports in their answers.

Mr Gregan said that the case study on the Paris Olympics was expected, but had some tricky questions.

He had particular praise for section C of the exa, where students had lots of choice.

“Question 15 on excellence in performance looks like previous questions and tends to really resonate with students who take PE to hone their own ability.

“Question 16 on ethics and doping sparks contemplation and discussion in class. 0

“Most noteworthy was question 18 on the psychological components of sport, which will really have connected with the students. More and more students are aware of mental wellbeing as a vitally important aspect of our lives, and questions on the impact of anxiety reflect that. In the high-pressure world of athletic performance, it is important to remember the human involved. This topic really tends to extend beyond the classroom into the students’ own lives,” Mr Gregan said.

On the ordinary level paper, Mr Browne said that it was appropriately pitched.

“Students at this level were asked more direct questions, whereas the higher-level paper required them to apply their knowledge,” he said.

Try this one at home:

Leaving Cert PE, higher level

Q6: A function of Sport Ireland Anti-Doping is the elimination of doping in Irish sport. State four current Irish anti-doping rules.