Thursday, June 04, 2015

English Leaving Certificate Paper 2 2015

Candidates across the country have now staggered out of their exam centres after their 3 hour 20 minutes marathon. At Higher Level they should have found their paper fair, with one or two trickier elements. Our pupils did The Great Gatsby as their single text, and aas in 2013 the questions were ones they were well prepared for - Nick and Gatsby's friendship (it is really a friendship? They meet only a few times in a short period) in one question, and in the other the matter of idealism and corruption. Most of the country will have done the Othello question (Desdemona and Emilia being weak, and a mushy question about 'values' which may have puzzled some).

In the comparative section there was a real difference between quite challenging theme questions and very straightforward genre ones (the sort of undefined questions common in the early years of this course and which we thought had fallen by the wayside). In particular A1 was probably one to avoid: 'Some texts leave readers with a largely idealistic impression of a theme or issue, while others leave readers with a more realistic or believable impression of the same theme or issue' - very wordy and unclear (an 'idealistic impression of an issue'?).

The attractive unseen poem was by the fine contemporary Irish poet Peter Sirr, 'Peter Street' (listen to him reading it here). The four prescribed poetry questions (Montague, Hardy, Frost, Ni Chuilleanain) had a sameness to them and were quite dull.

At Ordinary Level (only a handful of our candidates too this) Nick's 'friendship' with Gatsby was again asked on, and as usual the comparative questions (Relationships, Hero/Heroine/Villain) were straightforward. Vivienne McKechnie's Today as the unseen poem might have stretched some candidates. The prescribed poems were Montague's 'The Locket', Liz Lochhead's 'Revelation', William Wall's 'Ghost Estate' and Ni Chuilleanain's 'The Bend in the Road', overlapping with two Higher Level Irish poets.

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