Leaving Cert: Students struggle to hear Spanish recordings during exam

Leaving Cert: Students struggle to hear Spanish recordings during exam

Marie Ring, principal St Francis College, Rochestown chatting with pupils Conor Clancy, Matthew Johnston and Tom Ring. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

An otherwise fair and "more straightforward" than usual Spanish paper was marred with disappointment for students who struggled to hear and understand speech in the listening section of their Leaving Cert exam.

The listening comprehensions were more difficult for students than in previous years, according to teacher David McCardle who said the Spanish speakers “changed their tone for the sake of it”.

"Some of the Spanish people talking, their pitch was too high, and therefore it was actually unclear to hear what the words are being said,” said Mr McCardle from De La Salle secondary school in Dundalk.

He said the weather topic was also a bit more difficult this year as well due to changes in terminology that students would have been used to.

"The very first question was kind of hard and would throw a lot of students off from the offset," he said.

Some students took to social media to complain about the quality of sound as well as the CDs used in the exam cutting out or skipping.

However, Mr McCardle said the written exam was very fair and more straightforward than it was in previous years.

"In general, it was a very, very good paper," said Mr McArdle.

In the higher level comprehension section of the paper, emphasis was put on physical education and how important sport is for school students.

Mr McCardle said that this topic would have been "quite easy" for students who would have prepared this material in advance, as well as using it in the oral exams.

Up to date topics such as bees and biodiversity also made an appearance, as well as deforestation and controlled use of plastics.

The "big comprehension" covered the topic of volunteering, particularly in Latin America where people were involved in projects for building schools and homes.

"The whole theme nearly throughout the whole paper was how to make life better and to make the world a better place," said Mr McCardle.

 Pupils Patryk Muszynski and Eoghan Hayes of St Francis College, Rochestown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Pupils Patryk Muszynski and Eoghan Hayes of St Francis College, Rochestown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Higher-level essay titles included "The World needs Volunteers" and "It's important to help people", the latter of which Mr McCardle said would be popular with students this year given the Covid-19 situation.

The ordinary level paper provided no surprises and was "very adaptable" for students.

The letters section in particular provided plenty of choices and variety for students to play to their strengths.

"The choice on it was a lot better than previous years," he said.

Chemistry

Meanwhile, the Leaving Cert chemistry exam has been described as a "testing but fair" paper.

"It rewarded students who had covered the whole course as there were a lot of blended topics," said Mary Mullaghy, chemistry teacher at Eureka Secondary School in Kells, Co Meath.

This was evident in question three of the paper which featured a mix of flame tests, anions and redox chemistry.

Ms Mullaghy said there was a "good emphasis" on laboratory practical work as is normal but there were a lot of "fresh" questions which required a bit more thinking.

Question eight featured a question on hand sanitiser, while question two featured soap, substances we've all become more familiar with in the last year and a half.

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