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Higher level English papers a challenge but with no shocks

More than 116,000 Leaving and Junior Certificate candidates began their exams yesterday after long hours of study.

Students in some schools in the Dublin area had an earlier start than usual to avoid traffic caused by the arrival of the Olympic relay.

Higher level students in yesterday's English Paper 1 were challenged but not shocked by the questions, which included a few unusual choices.

Jim Lusby, English teacher at the Institute of Education, Dublin, said that while the reading texts could have tested some students, the comprehension questions were as expected.

But the essays were "a little flat, and unlikely to inspire the creative or imaginative writer".

Alan Thompson of the TUI and Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town, described the paper as "very fair".

While the themes of the three texts were subtle, Mr Thompson said "you expect that level of comprehension from higher level". He also said some students found the essays a "little uninspiring".

The only really new element on the higher paper was question b of text 2 which asked candidates to write a proposal. While that introduced a new genre, students "should have had no trouble with it," Mr Thompson said.

Christina Henehan of the ASTI and Rice College, Castlebar, Co Mayo, said that while "the diction and the use of language was quite challenging in all three passages", overall the questions were quite "conventional".

Michael Doherty, of the ASTI and Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, Co Donegal, said those who had their work done were "happy enough".

Irish Independent