Ordinary-level exam 'not easy option'


LEAVING CERT HISTORY - HIGHER AND ORDINARY LEVEL:HIGHER-LEVEL students got the better deal in yesterday’s history exam, which tested their knowledge but gave them plenty of scope to gain as many marks as they could. The ordinary-level exam drew no major complaints but, according to teachers, it was not necessarily the easier option.

“The higher-level paper really allowed students to show the range of their knowledge,” said Teachers’ Union of Ireland representative Tony Forrestal, a teacher at Rosses Community School in Co Donegal. “It was very student-friendly.”

Students would have been happy to see the compulsory document-based question on the British withdrawal from India. “A lot of them would have been hoping for that topic,” said Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland representative Fintan O’Mahony, a teacher at Scoil Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.

Questions on Ireland were broad, with topics such as movements for political and social reform, the pursuit of sovereignty, and the impact of partition and the diaspora.

“There was a nice question on Parnell,” Mr O’Mahony said. “The question on partition was very nice as well. Well-prepared students would have been well able for this section.”

A question on the 1932 Eucharistic Congress was widely expected and came up.

Section three on Europe and the wider world offered students a broad range of options, but by far the most popular option is the dictatorship and democracy section.

Students had to choose one out of four questions in this section and at least three of these were nice options, according to Mr O’Mahony.

“This was everything Leaving Cert history is supposed to be about,” Mr Forrestal said. “The major historical players came up, the key concepts were tested. It was a lovely paper.”

More than 12,000 students sat the history exam. Just over 3,000 of those opted for ordinary level and while they would have been reasonably happy, according to teachers, they probably got the tougher run of the two levels.

Like the higher-level exam, the documents question was based on the British withdrawal from India, which was “grand”, according to Mr O’Mahony.

The sections that follow are broken up into short questions, a short paragraph on a key personality or event, and a longer paragraph on a particular event, personality or time in history.

“Those short paragraphs were pretty tough,” Mr O’Mahony said. “Students have to learn about key personalities but some of the personalities they were asked about were more of the niche people.”

He added: “Ordinary level isn’t the easy option.”