Junior Cert English

Art – Higher Level

English Paper One: The exam began with the reading comprehension, as always. This year’s was on Mary Bück, the Irish astronomer. Personally, I found this to be not overly challenging, though I spent a good forty five minutes answering questions on it. I thought the essay titles were very open ended and relatively easy to work with, though my friend found the speech difficult. I worked with the title Tremendous Silence and wrote about a wake. The Functional question was considered to be tricky by most. Guidelines for workers in a shop was a first for the exam commission to come out with. I did the report instead which I found to be the most challenging part of paper one. Finally, there was media studies. I chose to do the question on the editor and not the report on Rotten Tomatoes. Explaining the job of the editor was pretty main stream. Then we were to give our opinion on the ice bucket challenge which was fun. I went against the writer’s alternative. Finally, a page of rambling about politics did the trick on the politics question, I think…

English paper two: As always, paper two drains all the energy from junior cert students as you’re writing till the end. The questions on the unseen drama weren’t overly tricky if I remember correctly. However the studied was more difficult to work with than usual. A sense of place was asked on poetry which shocked many students I’m sure. We then worked with two poems on ocean birds which wasn’t overly challenging. The studied novel gave students the option to talk about a character or alternatively pick two words from a list. I used inspiration and gripping for Roll of Thunder. At this stage I was utterly wrecked. The Book Thief was a short extract with two scenes. I found question two and three on this to be tricky. Fortunately we only had to do one of those. The first was pretty workable. Overall, a mediocre paper, which I thought was harder than paper one.

Jane – Higher Level

Paper 1
I was delighted with all of paper one. As most English Junior cert paper ones do, it followed a theme form section to the personal writing section, and this year is was astronomy. I found this a very interesting topic which insipred me to choose Stargazing as my personal writing heading. Even though I had planned beforehand to compose a speech, as soon as I saw the word a hundred things jumped out at me so I knew I had to do it!
I chose the first option for function writing and I put a twist to it.. I wanted to make it jump out at my examiner for being different.. hopefully they will appreciate it!
The media section was pretty nice this year, I chose the film question as reading the first part of the newspaper section nearly put me to sleep! (It was “write about the purpose of a news editor”)

Paper 2
I decided to complete my studied works questions first, as during my pre I didnt get to finish any of my To Kill A Mockingbird question! Anyway I think this is a pretty good idea, all you second years listen up!
Usually I opt for the Shakespearean Drama from section one, but today, whatever was in the air, I just couldn’t handle reading Shakespeare and went for the other Drama. I have a lot of experience in Drama and so I usually love these questions, today however I found the scene quite mundane. I didnt think there was anything interesting about the passage or the dialouge and I was pretty disappointed about this!
Actually, something I’ve noticed about this year was the use of bullet points in paper one, and having a few adjectives as part of a question and having to chose one and describe it… I found this pretty weird because they had nothing like it in past years.
And now, for poetry.. I LOVED the poems! I thought both poems were fantastic and loved answering questions on them! However, even if you didnt like the poems, as a lot of my friends didn’t don’t be too hard on yourself because the entire question is only worth 30 marks!
And now for unseen fiction…
I’m not quite sure what was the matter with me today, but I had a feeling that I had a half an hour more than I actually did have (KILLER) and it was 25 past 4 and I still hadn’t started the unseen fiction. I literally got no chance to even read the fiction so it was 30 marks completely gone!
I was absolutely kicking myself. I have a very good English track record and have a achieved straight A’s in the subject since first year, so you can imagine I was very distressed. However, I really did my best, and honestly, thats all I could do. I think if I do get a bad grade for it in September, that I should not take it to heart and not let it interrupt my enjoyment of the subject. At the end of the day, its just a little letter, so honestly, in case anyone else is on my boat… We’ll be grand as long as we keep our head high!!

Helen – Higher Level

– English Paper 1 –

I felt that English Paper 1 was quite straight forward as it’s not a paper which you can study for. The Reading Section was centered around the theme of astronomy which later linked with an optional question later on in the paper, in Personal Writing which was “Stargazing”.

In Section 2 which was Personal Writing, there was an option of 8 topics. I chose (1) Breaking the mould. I centered this piece in a short story format. It was about a boy who lived in a small conservative town and he’s gay. It features the obstacles he must overcome, which includes having to tell his parents about his sexuality. He then begins to campaign for the right to gay marriage in his state. I chose this theme as it is topical and modern with regard to the recent referendum.

In Section 3 which was Functional Writing, there was an option between writing a set of customer service guidelines or to write a report based on a survey within your school. I decided to go with the first option which was writing a set of guidelines. Again, I felt this was quite straight forward, as it was mostly common sense with regard to good manners, cleanliness and etiquette.

In Section 4 which was Media Studies, I found it was quite relevant as it featured such trends as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” The question for this was centered around the misuse of the social media phenomenon. Question 2 of this section was centered around “Rotten Tomatoes” website, which was all about movie reviews. All in all, Paper 1 went quite well.

– Paper Two –

The Unseen Drama was a choice between a Shakespearean piece or a more modern piece. I decided to go with the Shakespearean piece as it was the one I was most comfortable with. It was about two lovers who were about to be separated because the male lover was about to revolt against the king. The Other Drama was about a family picnicking on a sunny afternoon in June. Question Two in the Drama section featured your studied piece. I, like a lot of the country had studies Romeo and Juliet. It was interesting to see that within both questions, the staging and how you’d go about staging and performing the play were featured.

The Unseen Poetry was a surprise as it featured 2 poems in which you had to answer. The studied poem featured questions such as imagery and setting or to note what the poet had to say about either People and Nature or Adults and Children. I chose imagery and setting and I decided to go with The Daffodils by William Wordsworth.

The Unseen Fiction was based on the novel, ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak. This tied in with the World War 2 topic in my history course so this aided my understanding of the questions.
The studied piece questions gave a choice between choosing two words to best describe the novel from a list of words. My chosen novel was, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. I chose the words, ‘Gripping’ and ‘Complex’ to describe this piece. The other option was to describe the most interesting characters in your chosen novel which display both strengths and weaknesses.
Furthermore, I was happy with how the English papers went.

Please note: Blog posts reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union.

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