Exams 2015: Bono hogs the limelight again
The Leaving and Junior Certificate exams got off to a smooth start as 119,000 students knuckled down to the first day. Bono and Mrs Brown were among the familiar faces that greeted candidates and helped soothe any frayed nerves. Leaving Cert students return today for English Paper Two and engineering, while for Junior Cert students, Irish is today’s subject. Katherine Donnelly rounds up the talking points of Day One.
LC Higher English (I) - A speech by Bono grabbed attention on the Leaving Certificate English Higher Level Paper One, although it wasn't the best constructed text, according to teacher Fintan O'Mahony, of Scoil Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI).
"But there was plenty to say about it, even if a student wanted to give out about him," he said,
'Challenges' was the theme of the paper and Mr O'Mahony thought there were good questions on all three comprehension texts.
The Question Bs were a letter, an article and introduction to a book. Mr O'Mahony liked the option of writing to the principal to show unhappiness at a cancelled graduation, but he thought the article on the genre of favourite writing was a little complicated. He met a few students who chose it because the third one was "a bit drab".
Mr O'Mahony described the essay choices as good with two standouts: an address to the UN Youth Conference and another on endings, which might appeal to students as they finished school.
Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education, Dublin, thought the comprehension section would have been very comfortable for the well-prepared student, although "none of the texts was a particularly good example of 'fine writing'".
While the Question B topics were interesting, "the format continues to lag behind the times for most young people, few of whom ever write such pieces and most of whom express themselves in quite different forms". The essay section was "by far the most impressive section of an otherwise unexciting, if comfortable, paper," he said.
LC Ordinary English
Ireland's favourite 'mammy', Mrs Brown, helped Leaving Certificate English Ordinary Level candidates get off to a reassuring start.
There she was, smiling out from Paper 1, alongside an excerpt from the autobiography of her real-life persona, Brendan O'Carroll, which featured as one of the comprehension texts.
That text, and another, from Dublin author Roddy Doyle, were described as "very accessible and with good questions on both" by teacher Fintan O'Mahony of Scoil Mhuire, Greenhill, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary and the ASTI.
The third text, from a novel by another Dubliner, Christine Dwyer Hickey, dealing with a difficult parent/child relationship, was "again very close to their own lives perhaps", he said.
Mr O'Mahony said the compositions were "good too" and, overall, "most of our students were very pleased that they could say so much in their answers".
Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education in Dublin described the paper as "very successful", and agreed that the general theme of parents/guardians "would have been immediately familiar and comforting, but also intriguing and inviting".
However, he thought some of the many non-Irish nationals taking this paper might have been "a little fazed by the consistently green hue of the material".
LC Home Economics
Very topical issues, such as the definition of marriage in Irish law featured in what teacher Sandra Cleary described as "the nicest paper since the new syllabus was introduced in 2004".
"There were no trick questions- they were all straightforward and fair," said Ms Cleary of the Institute of Education, Dublin, about Leaving Certificate Home Economics Higher Level.
Ann Marie Kearney of Adamstown Community School, Dublin and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) said the marriage question was "lovely in light on the recent referendum that was debated and discussed in home economics classrooms around the country".
Overall, Ms Kearney thought it a well structured relevant paper. She said Section B, Q1 may have appeared challenging as the layout was different to previous years, however students who remained calm and took their time should have found it very manageable.
At ordinary level, while Ms Kearney thought the paper "very fair" , Ms Cleary described it as "quite challenging". "Some of the language used was quite tricky and perhaps more suited to a higher level paper," she said.
There was a welcome departure on the Junior Certificate English Higher Level Paper Two, with students being asked how an extract from the famous novel 'The Book Thief' might be filmed, said teacher Fintan O'Mahony of Scoil Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary and the ASTI.
However, he thought the studied fiction questions were a challenge, "but in a good way, including one on characters having both strengths and weaknesses".
In poetry, he said that while the Tennyson poem was straightforward, the other, by Katrina Porteous, was tougher. But students could choose, "so there was an escape there". Mr O'Mahony added that there were good drama questions.