Saturday 21 April 2018

Leaving Cert English Higher Level Paper 2 had 'remarkably specific and detailed questions'

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

While nothing unexpected appeared in terms of content, Leaving Cert English Higher Level Paper 2 contained remarkably specific and detailed questions, according to teacher Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education, Dublin.

He said it challenged candidates to display not only a wide knowledge of the prescribed texts, but also an ability to give more of less equal treatment to a variety of aspects.

“The character of the paper is best illustrated by the question set on the most widely anticipated poet, Paul Durcan, which required candidates to discuss three distinct aspects: ‘narrative approach’, ‘a variety of issues’ and ‘great emotional honesty’.

“It must be asked whether this approach is asking too much of 1,000-word essays written in 50 or 60 minutes,” said Mr Lusby

Mr Lusby said the range of poets  set for the  exam was more or less as expected, but each question contained three or four distinct aspects: “For example, ‘memorable characters’, ‘dramatic settings’, ‘meaning in life’ and ‘sense of disillusionment’ all had to be addressed in the discussion of T. S. Eliot’s poetry.”

The questions on Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop also contained  four distinct aspects, which , he said, made for a challenging section, not least in terms of time management.

"Candidates who had developed the desired skill of close reading would have been rewarded, “ he commented.

On the Single Text question, Mr Lusby said questions here were in line with the remainder of the paper – familiar in content and  wide-ranging in scope.

“Candidates were asked not only to discuss the characters of Lear and Gloucester in King Lear, for instance, but also to evaluate them in terms of relative heroism.  The tasks were complex, but not unfair,” he said.

In Comparative Study,  he said the  expected modes were examined, “but again the questions were less general than in recent years and  close attention to the specific terms of each question was essential.”  He  said  candidates were specifically directed to discuss characters, settings and moments of crisis, rather than invited to supply merely their own prepared material.

Mr Lusby described the Ordinary Level Paper 2 as  “a comfortable exam paper for the well-prepared student, without confusion or surprises.”

He said the  questions in all sections were well thought out and clearly phrased “ all as it should be for an eminently fair assessment of Ordinary Level candidates.”

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