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Leaving Cert Irish paper II: Students give their verdict on changes to exam

Leaving Certificate students sitting the second paper in Higher Level Irish have given their verdict on this year’s changes, following today's exam.

As part of the adjustments made by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) aimed at easing pressure on students due to Covid-19 disruption, paper two had a reduced number of questions.

Instead of two comprehension questions, students only had to answer one this morning.

They were also given the choice between poetry or prose which they said took the pressure off hugely with some completing the exam before the full three hours, meaning they could leave early.

There were smiles all around at St Joseph’s secondary school in Dublin’s Fairview with student Tomás Hennessy, from Beaumont, saying that the “changes really helped today”.

“We only had to do one question for the comprehension section and then do either poetry or the stories. I was happy going into the exam, I wasn’t dreading it. Irish is definitely one of my strongest subjects to focus us,” he said.

He still has three more subjects left to sit and is hoping to do Sports Science in DCU next September.

Student Nicolas Chiriac from East Wall, said this year’s exam was “quite easy.”

“We had a lot of choice which in past years we haven’t had. Having the choice between the poem or the story, that helped a lot. I came in prepped because if you have everything done beforehand, it makes your life a lot easier. Think it went well. I’ve got four exams left,” he said.

He felt that the changes to this year’s exams were essential as students felt under less pressure when it came to the milestone exam.

“We all missed a lot of time so obviously it’s going to take us a lot more time to catch-up so the changes helped because we were impacted so much by Covid,” he said.

Tadhg Walsh from Sean McDermott Street in Dublin 1, who hopes to study abroad afterwards, also felt that the exam went well.

“It was definitely an easier paper than last year, not only the written exam but the aural exam was much easier too. We only had to study 10 chapters rather than 20. With the written exam, it was one comprehension or one story or poem which helped as we just had to learn five stories or five poems,” he said.

“I think we need that change because we missed so much school. Even when we returned to school, there were teachers out with Covid so it has been hard.”

Deputy principal Alexandra Duane said the reaction to this year’s Leaving Certificate has been “generally quite positive.”

“They have come out feeling good. I think they have all been just dying to get it over with. What was surprising was that on their lunch breaks, they wanted to stay in the classrooms and study,” she said.

“I'm a Biology teacher and the choice option on the paper made such a difference. The students did miss a lot. I think this year in particular were even more impacted than the previous two years because they missed so much school. Teachers had been out for weeks and we were getting Subs in for classes so it’s been very unpredictable for them.”

St Joseph’s, which saw approximately 50 of its 258 pupils sitting the Leaving Cert this year, was established in 1888 and is one of the oldest facilities on Dublin’s northside. The all-boys school will go co-ed from September 2023 under a raft of changes being implemented by principal Séan Stack.

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