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2 more questions, 5.6 times the choice....

For the Leaving Cert Physics paper next June, students will have increased choice, with an extra question in both sections A and B. I filled an idle moment just now (I have a stack of exams to correct, and all distractions will be followed) looking at just how much that changes things

The new situation is that in...

...Section A: Students will now select 3 questions from 5 (rather than 3 from 4)

...Section B: Students will now select 5 questions from 9 (rather than 5 from 8)

If I have my calculations right (and they're shown below, so please let me know if I'm getting them wrong), this means that there will be 1260 possible combinations of questions for a 2021 student - as opposed to 224 in previous years.

It seems obvious that extra choice is a good thing for students. And the increased choice this year means that if a student leaves some material out they have a improved chance of that not affecting their ultimate grade - though of course it gives no guarantees about that. For my own peace of mind, I'm still trying to get the whole course covered (though I know that how well students worked though lockdown - and how well they could work through lockdown may make that very difficult for many)

But a student that doesn't leave any material out in their preparation for the exam, and is hoping to pick questions on the day where they can maximise their score, is going to be met with a dizzying array of choice., and I'm not sure that that's not a double edged sword. I know its never as simple as this but if there's one best selection of questions for them to attempt, it now follows that there are 1259 wrong selections (as opposed to 223)!

If I was a student, I'd still prefer to go into a exam with increased choice, but is there a case to be made that some students may actually suffer, if they don't take the selection of questions seriously? And how best to prepare them for that?

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