An afternoon paper with a new type of question was tougher than the morning exam for higher level Junior Certificate students of Irish.

Ruth Morrissey, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland subject spokeswoman, said it is unusual that students were asked about a place featured in any of their chosen novels, plays or short stories. They would be more used to questions about themes or issues in the prescribed literature.

She said the letters in Paper 2 were also challenging, with very specific information required in two of the choices about a school celebration or a meeting with a hero.

Ms Morrissey also considered that some vocabulary in the opening unseen prose section was tough.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland Irish spokesman, Robbie Cronin, agreed on the difficulty of the question about types of places in their studied stories, and reported that even students in all-Irish schools were angry about it. He was pleased with the choice of unseen poems, but thought it was too much to expect students to find two reasons why the narrator of one poem pulled in to the side of the road.

The morning exam for higher level students was quite fair, in Mr Cronin’s view. He said some difficult vocabulary in the aural and comprehension questions was balanced by some standard tasks in a later grammar question.

He said essays on topics such as holidays, mobile phones and a house party gave students plenty of variety. However, an account of being lost in Dublin might have been too limiting for students of this age or who are not familiar with the city.

Ms Morrissey said the morning paper was much less challenging, with reading comprehensions about teenage diet and a train journey. While some vocabulary may have been tough, questions were fair.

Ordinary level Irish students had just a morning exam, which Ms Morrissey said had a good mix of questions and topics. It featured reading passages about homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry and singer Imelda May. She felt students might not have understood a sign about water shortages during a heatwave, but might have been able to match it to the appropriate picture of a dried-out river by process of elimination. A postcard about a cycling holiday and a blog article about a beach trip were among the writing tasks.

Mr Cronin agreed on the difficulty of some vocabulary, and thought a question on the Peter McVerry article was quite difficult, in which students needed to identify unemployment and drug misuse as major problems. Otherwise, he felt the exam was relatively problem-free.

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