Sunday 25 February 2018

Leaving Cert 2012: ‘Unreasonable’ choice of topics in Irish higher level paper

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

AN "uninteresting, unimaginative and, in some cases, unreasonable" choice of topics was presented to Leaving Certificate Irish Higher Level candidates today, according to one teacher.

Among the essay titles was one asking students to come up with a solution to the problems in health service.

It was “not the way to promote Irish to students”, said Clare Grealy, a teacher at the Institute of Education.

She said the essay title, “The dilemma in the Health Service. My solution for it.”, required specific knowledge, which was an unreasonable expectation of Leaving Certificate candidates.

“Even through English, this essay would challenge students to have an insight into something that they probably have not encountered directly”, she said.

Ms Grealy was equally critical of the debate question: “Irish people should be more moderate in their consumption of drink”, which said she was a “ fundamentally flawed debate topic, as it is almost impossible to argue cogently that Irish people should drink more.”

She said in contrast to the ordinary level paper, the essays did not give students the opportunity to expand on the language skills demonstrated during their oral examination.

She noted that this was the first year that this type of paper was presented to candidates, with the aural element of the exam now forming an integral paper of Paper 1

“The aural component of the exam seemed to be ok, however students would have been distracted, as they would have had an opportunity to review the essay titles before the aural commenced. This was a significant distraction” , she said.

In contrast, Ms Grealy described the ordinary level paper as “lovely, very student friendly!”

It included an essay asking students to write about “A wonderful holiday I had”, which overlapped with a letter subject, about a holiday with your family in Australia.

Other essay topics that students enjoyed included, “My days at school” and “Television – I love it”.

“These topics invited students to elaborate on topics that they would have discussed in their oral exam. There was a common thread of topics between the written and oral exams” she said.

*Don’t miss tomorrow’s print edition of the Irish Independent for exclusive in-depth analysis of today’s Leaving Cert and Junior Cert papers.

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