Eimear Holly, a spokeswoman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti), said the higher-level comprehensions were manageable. She thought the written section offered a lot of choice and topics were relevant to students’ interests and issues prepared for their oral exams.
However, she thought a compulsory question about animal rights was very specific and challenging. Ms Holly thought some students might have avoided the diary entry, which required very specific vocabulary.
A Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) spokesman thought the higher-level texts about a French circus family and two girls running away from home were interesting. He said students had scope in the written section to choose questions which suited them about freedom given to children by parents, or animals kept in captivity.
He welcomed the way students were allowed to give personal responses on many topical issues and themes on the other questions, such as tattoos, sporting heroes, tablets in the classroom, shopping, a smoking ban, and equality.
Ms Holly said the listening test was clear and fair, touching on topical subjects such as economic crisis and unemployment.
She said the ordinary-level exam was fair, although some parts of the written section were challenging.
The TUI spokesman thought a text on smartphone apps should have appealed to ordinary-level students, and others about cycling and school should also have engaged candidates. He said the written section was broadly in line with that of previous years, and students could have used the French prepared for the oral exam earlier in the year, in a question about their hobbies.
nThe negotiations on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty were strongly expected by many of yesterday’s 12,500 history students, but appeared as a topic in the ordinary-level exam only.
The higher-level exam featured a documents question on the Second World War bombing of Belfast instead, but TUI spokesman Tony Forrestal said the questions and essay on it were nice. He said key personalities were the subject of question choices from each section of the course, which was good news for students who prepared well for them.
Mr Forrestal said most sections also had an economy question, and many questions were open enough to allow students demonstrate their knowledge of a topic, such as one about the success or otherwise of the 1913 lockout. One pitfall he saw was a question about US president Lyndon Johnson, where students who did not read the question properly might have only discussed Vietnam instead of his wider political career.
Asti history spokesman Fintan O’Mahony thought the documents about Belfast in the war were quite short, and said visual aids would have been liked by students. While there were nice, anticipated questions about Parnell and the 1913 lockout, he remarked on the long period covered by some questions in the Northern Ireland 1949-93 section.
There was nothing surprising, he said, in the European 1871-1920 section, and good scope for students to answer well on questions in the Dictatorship and Democracy or US sections.
Mr O’Mahony saw nothing too problematic with the ordinary-level paper, but thought the document extracts from treaty talks secretary Kathleen McKenna’s book had little historic significance and the questions might easily have been from an English comprehension test.
He felt disappointed, as this was the first question most students attempt and they would prefer more chance to show their history knowledge, but the rest of the paper gave them good choices.