For over 60,000 students, Junior Certificate English was first on the cards at schools around the country yesterday.

The appearance of emoji characters used in text messaging was considered a positive aspect of the opening higher-level paper.

Liz Farrell of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland said the comprehension piece about emojis tried to make the paper look a bit more hip, and there was a lot of scope for students in the personal writing section.

Barry Hazel of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said the emojis piece was very good and was followed by interesting questions. He was also satisfied that most Junior Certificate students should have been able to write on one of the essay choices, that included such open topics as a Eureka moment and sibling rivalry.

Smooth sailing for Junior Cert students Michelle Cronin, Coláiste Mhuire, and Kristyna Zigova, Cobh Community College, as they pose before the cruise ship Magellan in Cobh. Picture: Dan Linehan
Smooth sailing for Junior Cert students Michelle Cronin, Coláiste Mhuire, and Kristyna Zigova, Cobh Community College, as they pose before the cruise ship Magellan in Cobh. Picture: Dan Linehan

He suggested the State Examinations Commission could replace questions on letter-writing with questions on sending emails. He thought media studies questions about media consumption assumed a higher level of interest than students really have in the news, though Ms Farrell felt students should have been well prepared for such questions.

In the afternoon, the second higher-level paper had poetry themed around migration, which Mr Hazel said was linked to topical refugee issues. He thought poetry questions were broad enough, there were approachable drama questions, and a good question on the novel or short story.

Ms Farrell thought higher-level Paper 2 suited well-prepared students, with some very generous questions allowing them to pick what they wanted to answer.

She said the single-paper ordinary-level exam in the morning was very fair and the formatwas very clear. She said the comprehension was straightforward, as was the personal writing section.

“There was nothing that you could say was a really tough ask,” she said.

Mr Hazel agreed it was a quite accessible exam, and said essay choices featured something any student should have been able to write about. Among the topics were relatives, neighbourhood, a misunderstanding, and an escape.

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