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Day 3: Exam students tackle Geography and Maths papers

Students in the Leaving and Junior Cert will both face papers on Maths and Geography today ahead of a welcomed weekend.

Students at Belvedere College in Dublin sit the second day of their Leaving Cert exams yesterday.
Students at Belvedere College in Dublin sit the second day of their Leaving Cert exams yesterday.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

STUDENTS SITTING BOTH the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams will face papers in Geography and Mathematics today, after a varying day of papers in Irish, Engineering and English yesterday.

The majority of the 117,000 exam candidates at both levels will sit Geography papers this morning – though some Junior Certs will sit the parallel exam of Environmental and Social Studies – while the first Mathematics exam will kick off at 2pm.

Yesterday’s major exam news concerned the infamous Paper II of the Leaving Cert English course – where students regularly walk a tightrope by gambling on the appearance of certain poets.

The curriculum asks students to study the works of eight named poets, with questions then put on four and students asked to answer on one. This year’s poets were WB Yeats, Robert Frost, Emily Dickson and Eavan Boland – whose omission from the paper last year had caused much consternation.

Students found that the question on Boland this year was particularly challenging, probably in light of the controversy over last year’s decision not to include her.

Others were satisfied with the questions on set works, which one teacher told the Irish Times were “thought-provoking” – while the comparative works section was also uneventful.

The afternoon Leaving Cert session saw 5,000 students sit the Engineering paper, which included questions on waste incinerators and the work of furniture designer Eileen Gray – in another paper that was largely uneventful.

The Junior Cert Irish papers, which took up the entire day’s worth of exams, were seen as overly complex and dense by many with some questions particularly difficult to decipher.

In one case in Paper I, Higher Level students were asked to “aimsigh ainmfhocal san uimhir uatha san abairt dheireanach agus scríobh i do fhreagarleabhar é” – a request to ‘locate a singular noun in the final sentence and write it in their answer book’.

Some teachers said questions like that were unusually complex, arguing that students who struggled to make sense of the instruction would have become unsettled as a result.

Government shelves decision on mandatory Leaving Cert Irish >

In numbers: the Leaving and Junior Cert exams, 2011 >

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Gavan Reilly

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