Leaving Cert: Students pressed for time on German paper

Passive house design on construction studies paper; Greek drama for classical studies

Students may have been pressed for time on this year’s Leaving Cert German paper, teachers have said.

Orla Ní Shúilleabháin, a teacher at the Institute of Education, said that certain parts of the higher-level paper were tricky but this is to be expected. “The first comprehension was quite long, with precise and clear questions and the second, on street children in Hamburg, was fair and accessible. The grammar section was fair and accessible.”

Fiona Healy, ASTI subject representative and a German teacher in St Joseph's Secondary School, Ballybunion, said that the higher level paper followed the format of previous years.

“Students have to understand conversations by native speakers including the nuances of whether the speakers knew each other and their emotions, and it is essential to understand news items. The two reading comprehensions were manageable although some of the vocabulary may have been difficult. The topics in the essay and the letter – smartphones and the lives of young people – showed that rote learning lots of sentences won’t work.”


Ms Healy and Ms Ní Shúilleabháin said that students found the topics on the aural exam, including racism and the Quidditch world championship, challenging.

Listening exam

The ordinary level paper was fair and similar to the format of previous years, although some found the listening exam difficult, said Ms Ní Shúilleabháin.

The higher level construction studies paper was a good reflection of what is currently happening in the industry, said Trevor Hickey, founder of ConstructionStudies.ie and a lecturer in teacher education at the University of Limerick. "There was a strong emphasis on low-energy, sustainable house design, especially passive houses which are now recommended by the United Nations as the best way to lower domestic carbon emissions."

Mr Hickey said that that, overall, the paper was challenging but fair, with a nice balance of topics. However, he said that a compulsory question on architectural drawing may have taken some students by surprise because it did not relate to what happens on building sites today.

The higher level classical studies paper was held in the afternoon. Jim O'Dea, classics teacher at Rathdown School in Glenageary and a member of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment's review board for classical studies said that the paper was, on the whole, reasonable with a wide range of questions. "Pupils always have a problem with this paper in answering six questions in three hours but we hope to have a very different syllabus for examination in 2020. Questions on Alexander the Great were along expected lines although two of the questions on life and thought in the Late Roman Republic were difficult as were three of the four questions on Greek drama."

Try this at home: Leaving Cert construction studies

Using notes and freehand sketches, discuss the importance of any two of the following in Passive House design: (i) airtightness; (ii) indoor air quality ; (iii) solar shading.