Leaving Cert: Irish Paper Two 'fair and manageable'; Biology 'provided a lot of choice'

Grace Mooney, Siobhan O’Sullivan and Kelly Collins enjoying a joke prior to sitting the leaving cert biology exam at St. Brigan’s College, Bandon, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

An “emphasis on the traditional”, reading comprehensions featuring Michael D Higgins and human reproduction each made an appearance in questions faced by Leaving Cert students as the fifth day of the State exams got underway with Irish Paper Two and Biology.

With almost 50,000 students estimated to have sat Irish Paper Two, at both Higher and Ordinary Level, both papers turned up no major surprises, with teachers’ reporting “fair and manageable” questions.

“It was a paper where the very prepared students could really excel,” said Christine Ní Chathasaigh, Irish teacher in Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, Limerick.

The Higher Level paper also offered challenges to students with a good understanding of the language, Ms Ní Chathasaigh added.

“I thought that the Higher Level Paper Two was very fair, with a few subjects we were expecting popping up. The prose was very broad, which I think was fair to students.”

“Any of the material they would have prepared last night or looked over this morning featured,” she added.

While “hotly tipped” short story An Gnáthrud failed to make an appearance on this year’s Higher Level paper, most students will have welcomed a very straightforward question on A Thig ná Tit Orm, according to Emer McTernan, Studyclix Expert Teacher and Irish Teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone, Sligo.

“Having reviewed both Irish papers it is clear that the examiners were keen to use both traditional themes and more current global events as source material," Ms McTernan said.

“However, those who studied An Triail were asked to consider whether the characters of this drama felt they were blameless in relation to the young girl’s tragedy.

"Students would have had to be familiar with the word “milleán” [blame] in order to competently tackle this question.”

“The ordinary-level paper was a popular one among candidates, with much of the poetry and prose content tipped among students - An Spailpín Fánach, Colscaradh, Hurlamaboc and Cáca Milis. Two reading comprehensions on Michael D Higgins and the Oireachtas were also very doable."

Kicking off at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, most students would have been “happy” with the “nice, fair” papers for both Biology at Ordinary Level and Higher Level, according to Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) education officer David Duffy.

“The Ordinary Level was a very fair paper with plenty for all students to attempt,” Mr Duffy said. “The usual questions on ecology and genetics were there which is comforting for students.”

According to ASTI spokesperson on Biology Walter Walsh, Section C "provided a lot of choice so students who I met after the exam tried an extra question and think they may have benefited from doing so".

"Human reproduction featured as a surprise full long question after being absent in last years exam," he added.

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