Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Leaving Cert English Paper 1, 2012

This morning saw the language paper in this year's Leaving Certificate, and now all are hard at work preparing for tomorrow afternoon's literature paper.

Comments on this year's Paper I (Higher Level only, since that's what almost all our pupils sit):

No complaints, and all seemed happy with both the comprehension and composition options. There was no fiction text this year; instead, the three texts based on 'Memory' were: Margaret Laurence's essay of memories of growing up in a small prairie town in Canada, 'Where the World Began'; Mary Robinson's speech on hunger and the Irish Famine; and an extract from Paul Theroux's travel book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, about the way travel 'can induce such a distinct and nameless feeling of strangeness and disconnection in me that I feel insubstantial' (possibly a recognisable feeling to candidates this morning starting on their exam marathon).

The short essays were also straightforward - a direct response to the Laurence piece, a persuasive essay proposing an individual's commemoration, and another one for a school website on the value of educational outings (this should have been easy for our candidates, given their great experience of school trips).

The composition is the most important question in both papers, worth 25% of the overall grade. There were two short story options (the first of which was prompted by the idea of fame, the second to do with a young character leaving home, both of which were accessible), a persuasive piece on the importance of literature (this was also in the recent Senior English Prize paper), two essays for publications (on memory, and on Ireland's 'distinctive national identity', and just one personal essay on 'the marvels of today's world'.

All of which adds up to a comfortable start for candidates. As should be the case, the language paper allowed candidates to show their strengths without trying to trip them up. Now on to literature...

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