Positive reaction to exam papers
More than 116,000 students across the country started their State exams today.
More than 57,000 pupils will sit the Leaving Cert and Applied paper, with almost 60,000 taking the Junior Cert.
Memory was the theme for Leaving Cert English higher level paper one, and according to teachers, students will have been fairly happy with this morning's questions.
The paper opened as usual with comprehension pieces. These were varied extracts - a speech by Mary Robinson to international conference on hunger; a humorous and quirky article from Paul Theroux about his travels across the globe and a nostalgic memoir if life in a small prairie town from the Canadian writer Margeret Laurence. The exercises that accompanied them were described as “positive and stimulating".
Anne Gormley an English teacher in Laurel Hill Coláiste in Limerick said certain questions such as a "persuasive article for a website or a proposal to a local authority were quite easy".
Students should have been pleased enough with a diverse range of themes for the composition, including a personal essay based on the marvels of today's world; a feature article for a newspaper or magazine on the role played by memory and the past in our lives and a short story inspired by the phrase, “... an inferior rock band howling for fame.”
“The wide choice and scope of subject matter here enabled the students to select topic that they could tackle effectively,” Ms Gormley said.
The Junior Certificate exams kicked off this morning with a “very challenging” higher level English paper. The first of two exams, English 1, placed heavy emphasis on the media.
In the essay section students were asked to write an account of the experience of being a journalist covering a major news story, following a detailed comprehension section of the subject of breaking news in the modern age. There was also a functional writing exercise calling on students to write a magazine article.
The essay section was considered very difficult overall with only one title, on the importance of friendship, thought to reflect the usual Junior Cert standard.
Other topics included a case of mistaken identity and the beauty of man-made objects.
Junior Cert students will sit English Paper 2 tomorrow, where they will be examined on prescribed poets and authors.
President Michael D Higgins and Minister for Education Minister Ruairí Quinn sent good wishes to pupils who will take almost 90 subjects over the next two weeks.
Native speakers from 15 other EU countries will also be sitting Leaving Cert papers in their mother tongue, including Finnish, Hungarian and Slovakian.
“I would like to advise anyone taking exams and feeling under pressure not to hesitate to seek whatever support they can get from parents, family and friends," Mr Higgins said. “Once again, my very best wishes to all and, of course, good luck.”
Students attending exam centres in Howth, around Croke Park and in Dublin’s north inner city were warned to give themselves extra time to get to school because of road closures as the Olympic Torch tours the capital.
Mr Quinn said the next two weeks will be the culmination of pupils’ hard work.
He said a significant change this year is the introduction of 25 bonus CAO points for students sitting higher level maths for the Leaving Cert, which has led to an almost 25 per cent increase in the number of students taking the paper.
“I know that students might be nervous about the higher level paper, but if they have worked hard they should stay the course,” said Mr Quinn.
“Traditionally, many students hesitate at the last hurdle and opt for the lower level paper, but I would urge each student to think of the work that they have put in, listen to the advice of their teachers, and have faith in themselves.”
All Leaving Cert students will be examined in some elements of the Project Maths programme, while the oral Irish will account for 40 per cent of the overall mark.
Bernie Ruane, president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), said the vast majority of candidates will find they are better prepared than they think.
Pupils under pressure have been warned to seek support, while pharmacists have launched an anti-stress guide for students.
“Students should take care of themselves during the examination period, eating and sleeping properly and taking regular exercise and study breaks," said Ms Ruane. "Also, they should remember that each examination is a fresh start. Most importantly of all, students should keep things in perspective and remember that these exams will not define their lives.”
Leaving Certificate results will be issued on August 15th, with Junior Certificate results out a month later.