Home economics papers wrapped up the second week of the Junior Certificate and the higher level exam opened with short questions covering a very broad range of the syllabus.

Margaret Kinsella of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said students would have enjoyed a question asking about obesity and for the design of a family menu.

She said a consumerism question incorporated a number of elements of the syllabus, covering packaging, and redress in the Small Claims Court.

A question on the circulatory system was very straightforward, and one about water dealt with a very contemporary issue.

Ms Kinsella said ordinary level students would have been challenged by some questions on their exam. However, with plenty of options, they could have avoided those by choosing different questions.

Leaving Certificate construction studies was also examined yesterday afternoon, in an exam which a Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) spokesperson said gave higher level students a good opportunity to achieve high marks.

He commended questions about construction site safety and the location and orientation of a house, set to become a very important topic in house-building in the near future. Some parts of the paper were testing, and the first question’s requirement of detail of a porch with a flat roof may have troubled some students, but the paper was otherwise quite accessible for well-prepared students.

 Sarah Fox and Hanna Horgan sat Junior Cert German at Coláiste FCJ, Limerick. Picture: Liam Burke
Sarah Fox and Hanna Horgan sat Junior Cert German at Coláiste FCJ, Limerick. Picture: Liam Burke

ASTI subject spokesperson James Howley was pleased with the themes throughout the exam around current issues in the area, such as eco-friendly design, renewable energy, and passive houses. While there was enough to test the strongest students, there was plenty at the same time to allow those who were more challenged to perform well.

Mr Howley said students who had tuned in to current matters by reading newspapers and magazines, or by watching related TV programmes, would benefit by being allowed to reflect their learning in the exam.

He suggested ordinary level students could have found some questions on a par with the difficulty of some that might be seen at higher level — a reason for commending most students to take the tougher exam anyway.

German was the morning exam for about 7,800 Leaving Certificate students, and ASTI’s Marie Morrissey said the higher level paper was quite topical.

Issues such as integrating refugees into society and schools arose, as did the growth of film-making in Ireland, with mention of Star Wars and Game of Thrones productions here. But she felt students might have found it tough to come up with any negative effects that were asked about by a pen-friend.

The grammar section was quite nice, although students might have been surprised to be asked about conjunctions. One of the comprehension pieces was a bit tricky but another about modernising the corner shop idea with online shopping and delivery was nice.

Ms Morrissey said the ordinary level exam had further topical points, also including refugee issues. A comprehension piece about living at home or moving out after the Leaving Certificate was considered relevant to students.

 Leaving Certificate students Jack Barry, Raheen, Owen Alfred, Raheen, and Jamie Riordan, Rhebogue, after sitting their German exam in St Clement’s College, Limerick. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
Leaving Certificate students Jack Barry, Raheen, Owen Alfred, Raheen, and Jamie Riordan, Rhebogue, after sitting their German exam in St Clement’s College, Limerick. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

She said higher level Junior Certificate students could relate to a piece about using email, text messages, and other modern communication instead of writing letters.

They should also have been well able for topics on shopping online, holiday plans, pets, and a school trip.

At ordinary level, a comprehension piece was on teenagers talking about hobbies and best friends.

Ms Morrissey thought there were no problems with the exam, featuring topics in the letter section that were typical of what has come up in the past.

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