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Loretto College students pictured looking at the Leaving Cert English Paper One. Sam Boal
English Paper One

Leaving Cert 2023: Students begin exams with 'well-pitched and broadly appealing' paper

This year’s higher-level English paper one featured readings about technology, imagery and immigration.

A TEACHING EXPERT has said that sixth years faced a “well-pitched and broadly appealing” English paper one today in their first exam of the Leaving Certificate.

The higher-level English language paper is made up of two sections, comprehension followed by composing, where students must display their understanding and use of the language, tenses, grammar and spelling.

What is usually the first exam, students are not required to cite any course material during paper one and must answer two sets of questions based on a reading comprehension.

Lorraine Tuffy, English teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone Co Sligo said: “Paper 1 had a broad menu of choice to whet the examination candidates’ appetites for the coming weeks.”

This year’s theme for the paper was “Between two worlds” and featured reading comprehensions about technology, imagery and immigration.

Tuffy said: “Comprehension texts were varied and interesting, for the most part and encouraged critical reflection and creative thinking in students.”

The theme for the ordinary-level paper this year was “life lessons” and told the compelling story of Irish soccer player Denise O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan’s story, about new chapters and excitement would “resonate” with students who are currently sitting the Leaving cert, Tuffy said.

The ordinary-level paper follows the same structure as the higher-level paper and had composing questions on kindness, mistakes, passion, influence and embarrassment.

In the composing section of the paper, Tuffy said that the speech option offered an “interesting debate” on making mistakes.

“There was something for everyone with an article reflecting on celebrity culture: ‘Celebrities – Love them or hate them?’,” Tuffy added.

Some Leaving Certificate students also sat their Home Economics paper today, which is a choice subject in many schools. 

For Junior Cycle students, who sat their one and only English paper today, higher-level offered a demanding and challenging start according to Tuffy.

“The discrepancy between knowing your material and being able to successfully answer the demands of specific questions was highlighted in today’s paper,” she said.

The teacher said while the questions in the film section “seemed abstruse” the tasks were “certainly manageable”.

Junior Cycle students had two hours in total to complete the exam.

Tuffy’s verdict on the ordinary-level paper for the Junior Cycle was that it was “comfortably manageable” though acknowledged that the first few pages of the test were challenging.

“Despite the challenge posed by the opening pages, the rest of the paper was comfortably manageable,” the teacher said.

Tomorrow, some sixth years will sit the engineering exam in the morning, while all will English paper two in the afternoon.

For Junior Cycle students, they sit their Irish exam in the morning followed by a common-level geography exam in the afternoon.

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