Reaction to Thursday’s Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert exams

Student delight as poet Paula Meehan makes much-anticipated appearance in English paper 2

Leaving cert


* 135,000 students have completed day two of the State exams

* Leaving Cert: There was delight among many as much-touted poet Paula Meehan appeared in this afternoon’s English paper 2. This morning’s engineering paper, meanwhile, offered students topical and testing questions.

* Junior Cycle: Irish papers received a broadly positive reaction, even though an octopus question left some students in a tangle. This afternoon’s geography paper was well-received, but some teachers said the lack of a marking scheme impacted on students’ time management.


That’s a wrap ...

So, day two of the exams are over. If you’re feeling the strain, there’s just one more day to go until the weekend when you can get a chance to draw breath.

We’ll be back online providing live coverage from midday tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s Leaving Certs will face into geography and maths paper 1, while Junior Cert can look forward to history and maths.

Meanwhile, check out these last-minute tips (below). You can find more subject-by-subject advice here.


Make sure to have a clear plan for your timing in the exam. Leaving Cert geography requires you to write multiple essays which can mean students frequently run out of time and are forced to leave questions out. Remember, the examiner is looking for SRPs (Single Relevant Points) in your essays, so make sure to make clear statements of fact and avoid waffle.

While it is always tricky to predict what will be on the Leaving Cert geography paper, the good news is that there is always plenty of choice, with many questions to choose from. Make sure to remind yourself of the basics, such as how to correctly give a six-figure grid reference on an OS map.


Paper 1

Since 2020, Leaving Cert maths offers a choice of questions on the exam paper. You are required to complete five out of six questions in Section A, and three out of four in Section B. It is very important that you manage your time and adopt an appropriate time strategy.

It is not possible to predict precisely which topics will appear on the paper, but higher level students should be comfortable with De Moivre’s theorem, proof by induction, solving cubic functions and exponential and log questions.

For ordinary level, students must be competent in all aspects of the algebra course, and make sure to practise functions and calculus questions together as they tend to interlink on the paper.


Clodagh Havel, an English teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, gave a positive assessment of English Higher Paper 2:


Leaving Cert student diary: ‘I immediately went to the poets section. I couldn’t have been happier”

Our student diarist Cathal Moloney was one of many students thrilled with the choice of poets in this afternoon’s English paper 2 exam.

He faces greater challenges than most: he has dyslexia and dyspraxia and is completing the exams on his own – bar an exam supervisor.

You can read his take on today’s exams here.


Leaving Cert English paper 2: Student delight as poet Paula Meehan makes widely-predicted appearance

Peter McGuire has just filed this more detailed reaction piece from teachers to English paper 2. You can read it here.


Teacher reaction to English paper 2: ‘A thought-provoking yet manageable paper for the well-prepared candidate’:

Overall, this year’s English paper rewarded critical thinking while continuing to reinforce the futility of rote learning, according to Gillian Chute, an English teacher and grinds provider.

She said that the paper was a “thought-provoking yet manageable paper for the well-prepared candidate”.

While poet Paula Meehan appeared, as had been widely anticipated, Chute said the question may have proved challenging for some.

The paper asked candidates to discuss how Meehan employs ‘vibrant and forceful language’ to ‘challenge the often-oppressive forces’ in her poetry.

“While the question may have proved challenging for some, candidates that could tackle the nuances of the question would have welcomed it,” Chute said.

If Meehan did not appeal to candidates, she said Mahon, Kavanagh, Rich and Donne would have provided relief for many as they completed the line-up in the 2023 Studied Poetry section.

“A fantastic cohort even if it was surprising to see Adrienne Rich on the paper for a second year in a row,” she added.

On the comparative study, she said each of the comparative questions were designed to reward critical thinking and “left no room for rote learning”.

“In each case, the candidate’s deep insight into the comparative texts was essential as well as an ability to respond with original thought,” she said.

Clodagh Havel, English teacher at the Institute of Education, had a similar take on the paper.

“At its heart, this paper was accessible and provided ample opportunities for students to apply prepared material and their own perspectives on the texts,” she said.

“However, phrasing meant that those rushing to quickly scan the questions will find them tricky and feel a twinge of panic. A pause, a breath, and a mind map were vital in order to get to grips with what was really being asked.”

We’ll have a more detailed reaction piece available here shortly.


“You beaut”: English paper 2 verdict is in

Students were quick to comment on Leaving Cert English paper 2 as they left exams halls this evening – and most were very happy indeed

The most eagerly anticipated question has finally been answered: what poets would appear?

Exam halls heaved a sigh of relief as Paula Meehan turned up, as had been widely predicted – but there but no sign of the much-touted Elizabeth Bishop.

It’s fair to say most students were more than a little happy, judging by their reaction online:



Reaction: Junior Cycle geography: Accessible paper but lack of marking scheme is ‘unfair’ on students

Teachers were generally positive about this afternoon’s geography paper. Peter McGuire has just filed a reaction piece here.

Overall, while it was accessible to students of all abilities, the lack of a marking scheme on the paper was described as “unfair obstacle to time management” by some teachers.


Leaving Cert English paper two: the guessing game reaches fever pitch

It can’t be long before the bookies start offering odds on which poets will appear in this afternoon’s exam.

Some students have put the house on Elizabeth Bishop, who hasn’t appeared in years ...


bishop baby if you dont come up i shall 😵just like your dearest Soares 🥺🥺🥺💔💔 #leavingcert #elizabethbishop #english #xyzbca


... or will it be Paula Meehan, who has never featured?

... or what about Meehan, Bishop AND Kavanagh?

... all will be revealed shortly


Reaction: Junior Cycle Irish – Octopus question leaves some students in a tangle

The reaction among teachers to the Junior Cycle Irish papers has been broadly positive. Peter McGuire has just filed a reaction piece here.

While the aural exam seemed reasonably accessible, there were a few instances where people spoke quickly, and this may have been difficult for students to pick up, said Anne Loughnane, ASTI subject representative for Irish.

In the comprehension section, students were asked about an octopus, which may also have tied a few students up in knots.

“There were parts about the anatomy of an octopus and this is not necessarily what a student would be learning in school, but the questions were direct and understandable, which helped balance it out,” Ms Loughnane said.

Meanwhile, any students who watched the Oscar-nominated film An Cailín Ciúin or prepared for it may have been tempted to shout for joy: questions on the movie featured at both ordinary and higher level


Reaction: Leaving Cert engineering – ‘Students had to think for themselves’

My colleague Peter McGuire has just filed a reaction piece to the Leaving Cert engineering exam.

You can read it here.

Eamon Dennehy, a teacher at Heywood Community School in Portlaoise and ASTI subject representative, said parts of the paper required students to engage in independent thinking.

“In the short questions, students were asked about wave energy technology and required to give two possible disadvantages associated with wave energy technology as an energy source: this may not be directly covered in class, but requires them to think for themselves and apply what they have learned,” he said.


Leaving Cert student with two-hour school commute is ‘looking forward to chilling’ after exams

If you struggled to get to the exam hall on time today, spare a thought for Leaving Cert student Hamsa Ashaguur.

He gets up at 6am to travel from his home in Balbriggan in north Dublin and gets two buses to Clogher Road Community College near Crumlin on the city’s southside.

“I started my Irish school journey there before we moved to Balbriggan and I didn’t want to have to start again somewhere else,” he says.

You can read his exam diary here, and a feature by Peter McGuire on the class of 2023 at Clogher Road Community College here.


Junior Cycle Irish: early reaction

The early reaction is in. Linda Dolan, Irish teacher at Mercy College in Sligo and Studyclix subject expert, says the higher level T2 paper is a “massive improvement” on last year’s “mind boggling exam”.

“Students and teachers alike undoubtedly would have been happy and greatly relieved to receive this paper today,” Dolan says.

The ordinary level T2 paper also “went off without a hitch”, she says, with student-friendly language and a similar pattern to past papers. “Overall, this paper presented nothing out of the blue and gave everyone the chance to showcase their Irish,” she says.

She also gave a thumbs up to the higher level T1 paper. “Today’s paper would have been well received by students who have put in the time and effort and who have a solid understanding of grammar,” she says.

We’ll have a more detailed reaction piece shortly.

Holly Cairns on her Leaving Cert: ‘I wasn’t an academic student’

For any students fretting about points or college courses, be sure to have a read of Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns’s Leaving Cert memories.

“It’s great if you are academic and know what you want to do – by all means ride that wave – but it’s not for everyone,” she says. “There are other pathways so keep trying different things. I never thought in a million years that I’d end up in politics as a councillor or TD and now leader of a political party. It was through trying different things and having different experiences that I found my way here.”


First look: Junior Cycle Irish exams

The Junior Cycle Irish papers are in. They include the T1 (teanga 1) exam paper, designed for schools in Gaeltacht areas and Irish-medium schools, and T2 (teanga 2) is designed for pupils attending English-medium schools.

We’[ll have reaction soon.

T1 exam (higher)

T2 exam (higher)

T2 exam (ordinary)


First look: Leaving Cert engineering

The Leaving Cert engineering paper has just landed. Check out the higher level below. We’ll have reaction here soon.

In the meantime, did the exam-setters know something we didn’t? In the same week Apple launched its augmented reality goggles, there’s a big emphasis in the paper on “extended reality”, “virtual reality” and the ability to create immersive environments.