Categories 2015 Exam BlogEducationISSU NewsLC Blog (2015)Leaving Cert

Leaving Cert English Paper 2

Lorraine – Higher Level

Hey all,

I hope your all as happy as I am right now! I really liked the fact that we weren’t starting paper 2 till 2pm so you had the morning to revise which I did! I decided that I was only studying Hardy, Frost and Montague and on my head be it! I was also determined that the role of women would come in Othello and received much criticism when I kept saying it was coming up so as you can imagine I was delighted when I turned the paper and it was a question on Desdemona and Emilia! I couldn’t have picked it better myself!! 😀 The comparative question was a bit shaky I’m not gonna lie! I was really confused what the question actually meant and wanted me to do so I did the Q2 which I know I messed up! When I turned to poetry BOOM I had the choice of Hardy, Frost, Montague and Ni Chullean!! 😀 The question on Montague was a really lovely question about how his evocative language shows his profound empathy for people in his poems. I can honestly say it was a beautiful paper and I actually am sad to not be studying English anymore! I’m dreading maths paper 1 tomorrow it is my nightmare- but not as bad as maths paper 2!!

Rob – Higher Level

Monty Monty Monty, thank you Monty!

Nerves were running much higher this morning before the exams, with most of us depending on Montague, Frost Hardy and the beautiful Ní Chuilleanáin. I had banked too on Literary Genre for my Comparative, with General Vision and Viewpoint as a backup. Othello was always going to be a lucky guess, there were no patterns to study as it hasn’t been on in so long.

On opening the exam papers I raced to the poetry section where the first question that greeted my eyes was my favourite, Montague. Not only that, but his question on evocative language and empathy was almost identical to the essay I had been studying all morning. I had been totally we would receive a horrible combination of poets, but this was ideal.

I started my exam on the Comparative, the Literary Genre questions was phrased differently to other years, asking specifically for just one literary technique across three texts. I had learned essays using a number of techniques, but decided to go with character creation as I could combine narration under that title too. I wrote for the full 70 minutes I had allotted, and was happy enough with my answer. Overall I found it a challenging question, definitely requiring alertness and thinking on the day,

I wrote out my poetry essay before continuing on to my Single Text, Othello. I chose the character question about Desdemona and Emilia, I hadn’t prepared an essay exactly like this but was able to combine what I had written before to use for this question.

The unseen poetry was interesting, however talking to my friends I found they had seen completely different meaning in the poem than I had, so I’d rather forget those last panicked 15 minutes of the exam!

Overall I’m quite happy. I have never like Paper 2 and the need to memorise countless quotes, but I found this paper to be approachable and interesting. Apart from the first literary genre question which may have caught out some people, the general consensus was the same.

Now onto maths!

Joanna – Higher Level

I spent this morning looking over a small selection of notes and essays I prepared for myself earlier over a cup of peach tea. I was panicking. I don’t know why, I spent ages looking over poets, reading over all sorts of Othello notes and polishing sample comparative essays. Well, none of it was enough to calm me. I was scared because yesterdays exam really felt exhausting and made me dizzy and I wasn’t sure how today would go… Anyway, looking over Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, there was a particular sample question I liked about challenging subject matter and style in her poetry. When I opened the exam paper and saw the exact same question before me (slightly reworded) well, I almost cried with relief. The Othello question that I decided to do was about Emilia and Desdemona, apparently they were both ‘weak’ and didn’t gain our sympathy. My response to that was that a total chauvinist must have written that because even though Desdemona was shallow and submissive, Emilia totally rocked the end of that play and her realism, development and courage at the end made her my heroine of the play! And the comparative; that I found a bit more challenging, but I referred to the question throughout my answer and stuck to the structure that followed in all my sample essays, trying to fit in quotes and references to specific key moments. I hope it worked!

Overall, once again I was writing until the last minute, but I felt better doing the exam. I found it easier to get focused and also had some water with me and took a break when my hand couldn’t go on after about an hour, so it was okay for the rest of e exam. The joints in my right hand are sore, but I’m glad that this exam is done and hopefully the others won’t make it worse!

I’m nervous about maths tomorrow. De Moivre’s theorem and proof by induction are not my favourite topics at all! I always liked paper two more… I suppose I was nervous today and it ended up being fine, so maybe tomorrow will be similar. Well, I’ll relax tonight with some mathstutor.ie videos and more peach tea and it should be alright… Lots of deep breaths and remember, its not in my top six and the minimum entry requirement for my course is a pass in maths, so no need to stress too much.

Best of luck to everyone else!

Leah – Higher Level

Hello, hello and welcome to another exciting installment of “did I fail that subject or not?” On this weeks show, we have Leah, who thinks she totally bombed that exam and even panicked when she entered her exam centre.

Seriously though, I found Paper II way harder than Paper I. I started off with the Comparative because that was worth the most marks and I chose to do Question (i) from the Theme or Issue because I didn’t even want to attempt a two part question. They do not bode well for me. I don’t think I did too bad on that but I may have summarised the stories a little too much? I don’t really know, to be perfectly honest. That’s why I really dislike Paper II, there’s virtually no room for your own take on the works of Literature.

Next, I decided to go to the Poetry Question and, boy, did we hit the jackpot or what! I had predicted that Ní Chuilleanáin, Frost and Montague would come up and I was right. I was so lucky in that. I decided to do Ní Chuilleanáin because I like her the best out of those three and I think I didn’t fair to badly but I don’t know. I always feel like that after an English test, it seems I always get marked randomly. Who knows though?

Anyway, I then went on to the Unseen Poetry and I totally just hazarded a guess at the two questions in part one. Let’s hope I didn’t do too bad on that because I need a B1 in English for my course.

Finally, I took one look at Section I, Part E and my heart dropped. I decided to do the second part out of the two options because I didn’t know squat about Emilia or Desdemona. I know, I know – I should have studied them more but I was too concerned with my other subjects to even look over anything that was optional. I ran out of time for the Othello Question but I was doing so bad, it’s probably best that way.

All in all, I can’t stress enough how important studying is and I just pray to God that I got my B. I was such a nervous wreck before and during that exam, it was unbelievable. Who knows, maybe I didn’t do as bad as I thought? I am a bit of a perfectionist in that sense.

Isabelle – Higher Level

English paper 2 was by far the most emotionally draining experience of my school career. The big question everyone was asking before was which poets would come up, and the good news for anyone who had followed predictions was that all the favourites came up (with a really nice Montague question, thank the lord).
However this in my opinion was the nicest part about the paper. As someone who has been loyal Literary Genre at every given opportunity, at first I was delighted to see it make an appearance of the paper; and then I read the question. One literary technique for a whole essay??? This freaked me out quite a bit and so I instead went for the theme question, which was kind of like a mixture of theme and general vision and viewpoint? (“Some texts leave readers with a largely idealistic impression of a theme, while others leave readers with a more realistic or believable impression of the same theme or issue.”) This worked to my advantage as the only theme essay I have ever prepared was about what the authors were trying to say about the theme. Another thing I found strange about the comparative questions was that they both requested 3 texts, which as far as I’m aware has never happened before, as there is usually one that only asks for “2 or more”. The unseen poetry was very boring, i still don’t quite know if the boy’s father is dead or not to be honest.
Now for Othello. Quite possibly the meanest part of the paper. Luckily that morning I had briefly gone over women’s role in the play so I had a basic idea of what to write for “Desdemona and Emilia are weak characters who fail to gain our sympathy” , but i was not too happy about having to write it as I knew a lot more about other questions. The second Othello question apparently carried quite a bit of controversy.”The values evident in Othello have a profound influence on the outcome of the play.” To be quite honest i had no idea whether the question meant the character Othello or the play itself (I have been informed now it meant the play itself – still don’t know what the values of the play are…?).
Overall I was happy enough with how I answered all of my questions, and think I did as well as I could have for a paper that didn’t suit me as well as I would have hoped! All i can say is thank God it’s over!

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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