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Thursday 28 August 2014

Leaving Cert: Homage to Heaney continued in English exam

Katherine Donnelly

Published 05/06/2014 | 20:24

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Seamus Heaney reading works by Thomas Hardy
Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney made another unexpected appearance on Leaving Certificate English Higher Level Paper 2. .

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Widely expected to feature as one of the prescribed poets, he appeared instead in the Unseen Poem section, with ‘The Peninsula’, which  Jim Lusby, of the Institute of Education said candidates already familiar with studying his work would have found comfortable.

Mr Lusby said in the Prescribed Poetry section itself there were stimulating and challenging quotations presented for discussion on a very fair range of prescribed poets, with the other banker for most candidates, Emily Dickinson, making a welcome appearance. 

He thought the questions on Macbeth, the Single Text option for the vast majority of candidates, were almost exact duplicates of those set on the same play in last year’s examination.

“There was one on the character of Macbeth that looked straightforward but was actually complex, and another on dramatic technique that looked intimidating but was quite comfortable”.

He said the same choice between questions on character and questions on technique was available to candidates taking any of the other Single Texts in a fair and well thought-out section.

In Comparative Study , Mr Lusby said The appearance of The General Vision and Viewpoint as one of the examined modes was a relief, as most candidates would have hoped for this. 

“The questions were accessible and student centred, asking candidates to draw on their own experiences of life to illuminate their reading”, he said

However, he thought the questions on the other mode on the paper, The Cultural Context, were less successful.  Both were rather unwieldy and poorly defined.

Cathy Sweeney, also of The Institute of Education described the ordinary level paper as “delight for students”.

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