Junior Cert technical graphics: Frustrated students run out of time

Many candidates bogged down in ‘ridiculous’ and complex questions, say irate teachers

Junior Cert technical graphics students were faced with a question on Angry Birds.

Junior Cert technical graphics students were faced with a question on Angry Birds.


There was widespread frustration among students who struggled to complete their Junior Cert technical graphics exam within the time allotted, according to teachers.

The exam – which at three hours is the longest Junior Cert exam – has previously been the subject of controversy due to the volume of technical drawing required.

Séamus Cahalan, a technical graphics teacher at St Joseph’s college in Galway, said many students found themselves in the same boat this year.

“An exam should give students the opportunity to show off what they know,” he said. “But my students were very frustrated at unnecessary obstacles and incidental detail that was put in the way of answering questions.”

He said he had numerous calls from other teachers who also reported that students felt distressed at not being able to complete their papers in time.

Students generally found section A – in which students must answer 10 short questions – straightforward. One question required candidates to make a series of calculations based on a 3D model of an Angry Birds character.

Mr Cahalan said problems for most began in section B, which carries two-thirds of the marks.

The first question – which included a 3D graphic of an airport terminal – placed many students under time pressure.

Even with more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, Mr Cahalan said he would have struggled to complete the exam himself.

The second – which included an elevation, plan and 3D graphic of a logo for a hot air balloon club – was far too complex.

“Anyone who attempted it would have had so many construction lines that it would have been difficult to trace their progress,” said Mr Cahalan, an ASTI subject representative.

Question three (on axonometric axes ) was too complex with curves and sloping surfaces he said.

“It was unncessary and didn’t examine anything extra. It just made it harder to do,” said Mr Cahalan.

The fourth question – which gave the elevation and side view of a torch – was one of the few straightforward questions, he said.

Questions five and six also involved too much incidental detail and put students under time pressure, he said.

“There were quite a few lads stressed coming out of it. It’s a shame, as it may put able students off taking the exam for their Leaving Cert,” said Mr Cahalan.

The ordinary level paper, too, was complex and demanded too much from candidates, he said.

“Again, some questions were more complex than they needed to be. Some were complaining that dimensions in questions were too big and their drawings were running off the page,” he added.

“A question on the design of a microscope was far too complicated for ordinary level students. They had to search for dimensions, when they should really have been made clear from the start.”

Try this at home: Junior Cert technical graphics (higher level):

Question: Twenty-four tourists were surveyed while visiting a village in Ireland. The following were the nationalities of the tourists surveyed:
United Kingdom – 12
United States – 6
Germany – 3
France – 3

Divide the given circle to represent this information graphically as a pie chart; colour or shade the completed pie chart