Leaving Cert German: ‘More student-friendly than the mock exams’

A very accessible, relevant paper which remained close to the style of previous exams

Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Students were largely happy with a fair higher-level Leaving Cert German paper which was largely in line with previous years, teachers have said.

Clodagh Mackle, a teacher at Holy Faith Secondary School in Clontarf, said her students thought the paper was more student-friendly than their mock exam paper.

Deborah Ewing, a German teacher at St Mary’s Knockbeg College in Carlow, said that the German Leaving Cert paper is normally long, with lots to cover.

“Students regularly find themselves racing against the clock,” said Ewing, who is also a Studyclix.ie subject expert. “This was a very accessible, relevant paper, which remained close to the style of previous exams.”


Ms Mackle said that, because the UEFA European Championship begins on the same day as the German paper, some students may have expected football to appear as a topic.

“It didn’t, and this shows that you can’t predict what will appear on the paper.”

Leaving Cert German exam paper

Leaving Cert German exam paper, listening comprehension test

The paper included questions on journalism and media literacy, but Ms Mackle said that most students would have opted for the letter question instead.

“It was more student-friendly, asking what they will do for their next birthday.

“There was also a question about the KulturPass, which is given to Germans on their 18th birthday, which gives them €200 to spend on cultural events. This required students to use the conditional tense.”

Ms Ewing said that the first of the two reading comprehensions were relevant to the Leaving Cert age group.

“There was however some challenging vocabulary, which would have benefited the well prepared student. Comprehension two was about smartphones, so very relevant again.

“The grammar section was well pitched and accessible , with the verbs making a welcome appearance and the relative pronoun as an option.”

Ms Mackle, an ASTI subject representative, said the aural comprehension was accessible, with conversations about noisy neighbours, a Russian author who has lived in Germany for years, a messy house and a number of news items featuring.


On the ordinary level paper, Ms Ewing said it was accessible, predictable and straightforward.

“The student that put in a solid bit of work would have been rewarded.” she said. “The grammar [question included] the usual prepositions and compound words. The Ausserung (comment) and letter had links to the oral. Overall, students were happy.”

Students have already completed an oral exam, which accounts for 20 per cent of their overall marks.

“The department of education carries out the oral examination during the Easter holidays, so we see Leaving Cert students coming back to school and it’s like they have not had a break at all,” Ms Mackle said.

“Leaving Cert reform will see changes to German, and I would urge all modern foreign languages teachers to read the draft junior cycle modern foreign languages specification so they can form an opinion on it. There are 39 learning outcomes, and 22 questions, compared to less on the other three languages (French, Spanish and Italian). This does not bode well for senior cycle changes in German.”