Leaving Cert Italian, Latin and Classical Studies: ‘Fair and accessible’ papers

No major complaints from teachers about Monday’s exams

The higher-level Leaving Cert Italian paper was student friendly, fair and accessible, according to Mairéad Ni Drisceoil, ASTI subject representative and an Italian teacher at Coláiste Na Phiarsaigh in Glanmire, Co Cork.

“The journalistic passage about pen pals was a very accessible topic for students.” she said. “As was the case last year, the sections for the answers were not given. This should not have come as a surprise this year.”

The unseen literary passage, along with those of the prescribed novels, should have posed no major difficulties, she said. “The essay options were also varied and offered students a good opportunity to show their knowledge of the prescribed texts. The written section was straightforward, including topics such as friendship and an exam nightmare.”

“The ordinary paper was very approachable and students were pleased with it,” Ms Ni Drisceoil added. “The inclusion of modern articles, such as one on a fashion blogger, ensured that students could relate to it.”


Numbers for Italian are relatively low, with just 490 students sitting the paper compared to 7,867 for Spanish and 23,885 for French. Around 479 students sat the Russian exam which also took place on Monday.

In the afternoon, Technology, Latin and Classical Studies were all timetabled. Jim O’Dea, ASTI subject representative and a Classical Studies teacher at Rathdown School in Glenageary, Co Dublin, said the higher level paper was fair and reasonable with no major pitfalls.

“My main criticism is the distribution of the marks and how they were subdivided. In one of the ten topics, only one question was subdivided and this creates an inequality: pupils tend to fare better where questions are subdivided.”

The ordinary level paper was reasonable with a good range of questions, Mr O’Dea said.

Roman history

The higher level Latin exam, which was held at the same time, was a very manageable paper overall, according to Aryn Penn, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Gonzaga College, Dublin.

“The Latin language components of this paper were fair questions for well prepared students, giving students of all levels good scope to demonstrate their ability to translate and comprehend passages of Latin,” she said.

“One question included a very memorable passage from an Aeneid book. Question five, testing the familiarity of students with Roman history, literature and art history, touched on topics that students enjoy the most: an assessment of the reigns of two notable emperors, Augustus and Nero.”

The ordinary level was fair for the level required of students, Ms Penn said. “Students would benefit from more differentiation in the types of questions used to assess their Latin ability, rather than having the majority of marks taken from translating passages from into English.”

Try this at home: Leaving Cert Italian, higher level

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