Leaving Cert English Paper 1


Well that’s one down and far too many to go, delighted to have finally started! I’m cautiously optimistic about how English Paper 1 went, and hope everyone else who sat it is too! In short it was a fair and balanced paper which seems to have been well received all round. With an overall theme of memory the reading comprehensions were for the most part engaging and accessible. The “Question A” sections of Texts 2 and 3 contained questions which required students to react to visual material, and all three texts examined knowledge of features of style and asked for personal opinions on the effectiveness of the piece/overall quality of the piece.I did Question A from Text one despite being tempted to have a go at the Question B element of it. Text 1 was very accessible in contrast to previous years and both Question A and B were well received by students. Question A asked for three pieces of evidence in support of a claim about the author’s home place, a question on the author’s “very clear” attitude towards the small town she grew up in, and a question on the effectiveness of the piece as an example of good autobiographical writing. Question B asked students to write a letter to the author commenting on what interested you in the extract and the impact of your own home place on you.Then I got going on my selected question B, from Text 2 which asked for, oddly enough, a “proposal” to be submitted to the relevant authority regarding a person or event you feel should be commemorated, why they deserve to be commemorated and what form this commemoration should take.  Must admit I was a bit unsure as to the exact format needed for a “proposal” but it ended up somewhere between a letter and an obituary! Regardless, two and a bit pages on the virtues of Martin McAleese await correction!The accessibility of the Comprehensions was off-set a bit by a few “quirky” and prescriptive essay titles such as “an inferior rock band howling for fame” which was to be the inspiration for a short story, and a speech on the importance of literature in people’s lives. I opted for a speech on what defines Irish national identity and I must say Leaving Cert History helped out considerably on that one!So that’s my spiel on Paper one, now for Paper 2!


Hi everyone! I am sure that all of the Leaving Certs out there are delighted to have their first exam behind them. I most definitely am!The English paper one today was, in my opinion, a very nice paper. The theme was 'Memory' which was the first thing I noticed when I got my paper and I was fairly happy with that. When I was allowed to open the paper, I went to the very end to scan through the essay titles. They were not fantastic. I had prepared a short story and there were two essay assignments. One of the essays was to be inspired by "an inferior rock band howling for fame". When I saw that I couldn't believe my own eyes, so I looked at the second one which asked students to write about a young character eager to leave home. Both of these titles were not fantastic. The first one shocked me and even though I love rock music, I didn't do it because I had nothing prepared. I picked the other one because I was able to use some parts of the short story that I had prepared. I did a quick brainstorm and went on to look at the three texts.The first comprehension seemed okay, but when I saw the question about it being a good example of autobiographical writing, I knew that it was not something that I wanted to do. Section B seemed fine and I thought that I could perhaps do it if there was nothing better. Text Two was a very interesting comprehension. It was an extract from a speech made by Mary Robinson. I love Mary Robinson so I was eager to see if the questions suited me. Thankfully the questions were pretty straight forward, so I knew that this was my Question A. I had a quick glance at the Question B in Text Three. It involved writing a persuasive article for your school website supporting or opposing the idea of school outings. During school, I was a member of the Student Council so it was a good option for me. I wrote an article from the point of view of a Student Council member about the benefits of school outings.Then I went back to do my essay. My essay was about a girl, who was very smart but was poor and her father was an alcoholic. After she did her Leaving Cert, she got into a physics course in Trinity. Her physics teacher took her to Dublin and helped her start a new life away from her toxic family. She later became very successful and worked in CERN. Then at the end when she finally gets the Nobel prize she finds out that he died. He won't be there for her acceptance speech but he will always be in her heart as her guardian angel. Therefore the title of the essay was guardian angel. I came up with the title at the very end. I know the story is a bit fictitious but again, it wasn't something that I had prepared. Instead of panicking, I just went with the flow and gave it my best. And that is basically what you have to do.In the morning before my exam, my past principal, who by the way is amazing, came in to wish us good luck. I asked her for any last words of wisdom and she simply told me - "Just believe in yourself". After the first exam, I can honestly say that confidence and believing in yourself are very important. There might be a question that we won't be sure about and we will have to improvise a little bit or leave it and come back to it later. The knowledge is there, you just have to extract it at the right moment and let it flow through you. Best of luck to everyone sitting Paper 2 tomorrow. Please don't just look over Sylvia Plath because what if she's not there? Look over Rich and Boland and I know what everyone will say - "Boland was on last year". I know but if you all look carefully at past papers, there was a situation when Plath came up twice in a row in 2003 and 2004. The choice is yours.Look after yourselves and get plenty of sleep and chocolate!


ISSU Commentary

The general feeling from 57,000 thousand or so who sat the Leaving Cert exams were that they were generally far and the fact that iconic features such as Mary McAleese and Brian O’Driscoll came up, as well as the choice element were two major positives from the exams. However some students at Higher Level found the essay titles difficult to write about in a great deal of depth.  Another iconic figure Mary Robinson came up which was again a positive.  Overall students seemed relatively positive about two ‘fair’ papers.

Please note: blog posts reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union. Blogs are updated daily by 6.30 pm on scheduled examination dates.