Junior Cert technical graphics: ‘almost impossible to complete’

Expert reaction: ‘Questions are growing increasingly complex’

Many students complained that they were unable to complete the full technical graphics Junior Cert  paper. Photograph: Getty Images

Many students complained that they were unable to complete the full technical graphics Junior Cert paper. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Junior Cert students faced an almost impossible task of trying to complete their technical graphics exam within the three-hour time limit, according to some teachers.

While technical graphics – a combination of maths and geometry – is the longest of the Junior Cert exams, many students complained that they were unable to complete the full paper. “I had 50 students doing the exam and they were all pinned to their collars to try to get it done on time,” said Séamus Cahalan, a technical graphics teacher at St Joseph’s College in Galway.

“A good exam should allow a student to demonstrate their knowledge. I don’t feel it should be a race against time. It was almost impossible to complete on time. A qualified teacher might do it, but a 14- or 15-year-old shouldn’t be under that kind of pressure,” said Mr Cahalan, who is a subject representative for the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland.

Volume of questions

He called on the State Examinations Commission to reconsider the volume of questions. “The questions are getting increasingly complex,” he said. “They are are not difficult, as such, but there is a lot in them and some are physically very big to answer within the answer sheet.”

Michael Leyden, a teacher at Abbey Vocational School in Donegal, agreed that the higher-level paper would have kept students busy right to the end.

Overall, he said the higher- level paper was well structured to reward candidates who were given wide exposure to the syllabus.

The ordinary paper followed the layout of previous years and was well-pitched said Mr Leyden, who is a subject representative for the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

In all, some 12,000 – or one in five – Junior Cert student sat Monday’s technical graphics exam. In the afternoon, almost 17,000 students sat a materials technology (wood) exam, worth a third of overall marks, with the remainder going on a project.

Students described the paper as very accessible with a good selection of questions.