THE Junior Cert English Higher Level Paper 1 had a "whole new feel", according to one teacher.
Christina Henehan of the ASTI and Rice College, Westport, Co Mayo, detected change in the prose composition question on the subject of whether social networking sites were bad for teens.
"It came into the modern world," she said, adding that another option where candidates were asked to include certain words or phrases from a list into a composition was another departure.
Overall, Ms Henehan welcomed the changes, but said aspects of the functional writing, such as a letter to an imaginary future son or daughter, were closer to Leaving Cert in style.
Ordinary level candidates had only one paper, which was "straightforward".
However, at foundation level she thought students for whom English was not their first language might have had difficulty with some of the words in the 'Harry Potter' text.
Alan Thompson of the TUI and Abbey Vocational School, Co Donegal, agreed that the "quite abstract topic" of letter in functional writing on the higher level paper was "a little on the difficult side". He also felt that the media studies question on evaluating a news story was "quite taxing".
Overall, he described paper 1 as " fair but challenging enough". Students reported that they were happy with it, but were "writing all the time", he added.
Similarly, Mr Thompson said the afternoon higher-level paper, dealing with poetry, drama and fiction, was "fair, but students felt it was difficult in parts".