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Leaving Cert art, visual studies: Students needed to be methodical in addressing all elements of questions

Fair and open-ended questions posed little barrier to those hoping for chance to display their knowledge, says teacher

Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The second year of the new Leaving Cert art: visual studies exam gave students “an accommodating paper whose transparent questions encouraged higher-order thinking,” according to Declan Kelly, a teacher at the Institute of Education.

“The new art exam, now in its sophomore year, will be welcomed by students and teachers alike,” said Mr Kelly.

“The exam setter has clearly carefully considered reactions to last year’s debut and presented students with a paper that should accommodate a wide range of abilities.

Students had more clarity entering the exam has this year compared to last year and would have been primed to the demands of this new paper.”


Section A of the paper asked students to display their knowledge of the language of art elements and the principle of design.

“Question one on Ann Quinn’s Meenagrauv asked them to verbalise organisational aspects of an intuitively graspable image of rural dereliction,” said Mr Kelly.

“The concepts of composition, perspective and colour would be immediately apparent and those familiar in discussing these will be happy. This approach was found throughout this section, whether it was the perspective in Sinead Wall’s Rosmoney print or the organic lines of Mette Roche’s Aran Noaide.”

Students were asked to consider what is meant by a “successful career” in art, the advantages of print editions and what makes an exhibition popular to the general public.

“The latter had ambiguity baked into the question and so students could take any number of positions, but needed to justify them,” said Mr Kelly.

Section B on Europe and the wider world will have delighted many, he said, while question eight on Gothic cathedrals was a “super-straightforward, classic Leaving Certificate question”.

“Section C on Ireland and its place in the wider world would provide students with six reliable and transparent questions,” he said.

“These were all fair and open-ended, offering no artificial barrier to those hoping for a chance to display their knowledge. As always, students needed to be methodical in addressing all elements of the question but what was required was clearly identified,” Mr Kelly added.

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Try this one at home:

-Leaving Cert art: visual studies, higher level

Question 19: Post 1960

Compare the work of two Irish artists who explore the theme of identity. Refer to two named artists and their artworks in your answer. Include discussion of context, subject matter, media and processes, art elements and design principles.