Join Pat Doyle from Dublin's Institute of Education as he takes students through the Leaving Cert Physics Higher Level exam. Scroll down to watch six the tutorial videos with some top tips.

Pat graduated with a Masters Degree in Physics in 1986 and has taught Physics in the Institute for over 30 years. He has been a regular contributor to Science Plus, and Pat has co-written Exploring Science, Exploring Science Workbook and Revise Wise Science for the Junior Certificate.

Pat has taught a Leaving Cert Physics class every year since the start of his teaching career. He teaches Physics in the Full Time Day school, the Part Time weekly classes and the Revision Classes at Christmas and Easter.

Watch the videos here and read about the exam structure at the end of the article!

1. Planetary Motion

This video examines the gravitational force between objects, in particular planets. The key mathematical formulae required are explained and sample questions on these formulae are included.

2. The Doppler Effect

This video explains the Doppler Effect in a way that is required for the Leaving Cert. The mathematical formula for the Doppler Effect is included along with some worked examples.

3. Diffraction of Light Waves

This video examines the idea of diffraction of waves, in particular the diffraction of light waves using a diffraction grating. Worked numerical examples are also included.

4. Variation of Current with Potential difference

This video concentrates on one of the mandatory experiments that is very popular with the examiner. The relationship between current and potential difference for a diode is examined along with the relationship between current flowing in a solution of copper sulphate and potential difference across the solution.

5. Specific Heat Capacity of a Solid or Liquid.

This video looks at a mandatory experiment to measure specific heat capacity. Both an electrical and a non-electrical approach to this experiment is included.

6. X-rays.

This video looks at the making of X-rays from the practical and theoretical point of view. Mathematical calculations linked to making X-rays are included.

Overview of the Physics Paper 2021 

Section A:

  • This section is worth 26.3 % of the total marks in the exam.
  • All the questions are based on the 24 mandatory experiments.
  • You must answer 2 questions from a selection of 5 questions. An extra question has been added for the 2021 exam. You have one less question to answer compared to previous years.
  • There is a high level of repetition in these questions as the same experiments have been on the course since 2002.
  • You would be well advises to concentrate on the solutions to the various past paper section A questions.

Section B:

  • This section is worth 73.7% of the total marks in the exam.
  • You must answer 4 questions from a selection of 9 questions. Again an extra question has been added for the 2021 exam. You have one less question to answer compare to previous years.
  • A question usually involves knowing a definition, e.g. define capacitance.
  • Several of the questions will ask for an experiment to demonstrate a particular idea, eg outline a laboratory experiment to demonstrate the Doppler Effect.
  • Most of the questions will involve a mathematical calculation.


  • Allow 25 minutes to answer each question.
  • Even though the questions in section A are worth less marks than in section B, they tend to be just as time consuming.
  • This time plan will give you about 30 minutes to spare in the exam. You could choose to check you work or attempt an additional question.

Click on this link for more Leaving Cert subjects!