Junior Certs ‘will have time’ to complete new English exam
State Examinations Commission responds to widespread concern among candidates
The State Examinations Commission is satisfied pupils will have sufficient time to complete the Junior Cycle English exam despite concerns among students.
It was responding to widespread concern among students who reported difficulties completing mock versions of the exam in recent weeks.
An online petition set up by a Junior Cert student calling for the exam to be extended by 30 minutes has attracted almost 10,000 signatures within a week.
English is the first subject to be rolled out under new junior-cycle reforms and involves a single two-hour written exam, in contrast to the five hours allocated for two papers under the system.
In a statement, the commission said all exams are designed to be completed within the allocated time.
“In preparing the 2017 Junior Cycle English final examinations, the SEC is conscious of providing candidates with an examination that can be completed within the set down timeline of two hours,” it said.
“ The SEC has taken measures to evaluate the completion time for the examination and is satisfied that candidates will have sufficient time to complete the examination and will be appropriately rewarded for their efforts.”
It assured candidates that the exam papers in preparation for the exam were being “subjected to thorough evaluation”.
“This is to ensure their suitability for completion in a two-hour examination and that they will be fair to candidates,” it said.
The commission added that it had no role in producing mock exam papers, which are sourced by schools from a number of commercial suppliers nationally.
“The SEC cannot comment on their content or the length of time they take to complete,” it said.
The duration of an exam, along with the other assessment arrangements, is set down in the published syllabus following development by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and ultimately approved by the Department of Education.
This development work involves the input of subject experts, including teachers of the subject.
The published syllabus then forms the basis of the teaching and learning and related assessment arrangements that apply over the programme of study.
The commission said quality assurance procedures are designed to ensure that the exams set by the SEC are in “full compliance with the specifications and meet stringently high standards relating to test design”.
The new English exam also includes an assessment task worth 10 per cent, as well as the final two-hour written exam worth 90 per cent of marks.
Up to 40,000 Junior Cert students are due to complete this assessment task next month, following a breakthrough in a dispute with a teachers’ union over the new reforms.