Junior Cycle exam needs reform

Exam fails on so many levels

A chara, – The Department of Education must reform the Junior Cycle terminal assessment.

This exam, radically different from the original (2013/14) proposals for Junior Cycle assessment, is not fit for any purpose. It fails on all levels and is a waste of resources.

Able examinees do not have the opportunity to demonstrate the range of their abilities and learning since the exam is too short, narrow in scope and lacking differentiation. Neither are they particularly incentivised by the marking levels since the band for “higher merit” is so wide that most students who do minimum work and who do not have any formal special educational need should fall easily into this category.

It fails those of different intelligences who struggle academically, since that is the nature of all terminal written exams anyway. In such a brief exam, one devious question, such as the poetry question on last week’s English test, can cause disproportionate damage to a final mark as well as to the child’s happiness. It is cruelly ironic that Wednesday’s incompetently assembled paper should have been based on the theme of “hope”.


This exam assesses average ability only. Logically, therefore, there is no need for any test.

Finally, the Junior Cycle exam fails pupils of all levels of ability since it is not adequate preparation for the challenges of the existing Leaving Certificate – that is, of course, until the inevitable moment when that too is similarly reformed or dumbed down.

– Is mise,