Students have reacted with upset and frustration to the listening section of the higher level Leaving Cert Spanish exam, which they said included “mumbling”, “cut-off sentences” and “skipped in parts”.
In a statement, the State Examinations Commission acknowledges it has received complaints from students and parents but said that despite the CDs being produced to high-quality industry standards, there can still be localised issues in individual exam centres.
“Aural tests are conducted in Irish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish, as well as music, across 11,000 test sessions nationwide. It is inevitable given the scale involved that in some instances, problems may arise,” a spokesperson said.
While this year’s higher level chemistry exam was “challenging but fair”, it rewarded students who had covered the whole course.
That’s according to Mary Mullaghy, chemistry teacher at Eureka Secondary School, Kells in County Meath, and Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) chemistry rep.
“As the current syllabus has been around since 2002, the State Exams Commission (SEC) is coming up with novel ways of asking questions,” Ms Mullaghy said, adding that this might be off-putting to some students.
They may not understand what is being asked of them, even though they actually know the content.
Covering the entire course is also getting “more difficult” due to the introduction of one-hour classes in schools, as 20 minutes are lost every week during the Senior Cycle, she added.
When it came to the Junior Cert, Latin America took centre-stage on the Spanish exam, with references to Peru, Bolivia, and Guatemala on the paper.
Kay Macken, president of the Association of Teachers of Spanish, said that she was encouraged by the topics on the paper, which included the series Narcos and Game of Thrones, fashion designer Manolo Blahnik, electric cars, and sport.
In the afternoon, materials technology students sat a “well-received paper with visually stunning images and graphics to stimulate students,” said Donal Cremin, metalwork teacher at Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra in County Kerry.
The exam featured questions on smart technology, hoverboard designs and a selfie stick.