REACTION TO ENGLISH PAPER ONE
By Yeats College English teacher Ms. Sinead Caslin Cregg
The English Paper One Exam offered students a very fair, straightforward paper with lots of scope for both creativity and discursive flair. The texts in the Comprehension posed no major difficulties in terms of language and comprehension. However, as was the case in 2018, elements of Paper Two once again appeared on this exam. In the Comprehending section, the accompanying questions once again featured a compulsory link to Paper Two texts. Thankfully, this task was not as much of a curveball this year, having appeared before in last year’s exam. As a result, students felt more prepared to answer a ‘literature based question’ within their Paper One Exam. So, there should be no axe to grind! The questions themselves however were challenging and quite specific. Students were certainly being required to think on their feet. For example, students were asked to “identify an image, moment or episode from a Shakespearean play you have studied that revealed something to you about “ourselves now””. The Question B tasks were varied and encouraged students to use their imaginative, creative streaks. The topic of sport and its benefits came up, which was predicted with Sport becoming a Leaving Certificate subject in 2020, so this was a welcome question and will be a popular choice I think. Another option was to “imagine you are fleeing earth on the last spaceship evacuating the planet” which will appeal to students who enjoy writing creatively.
The range of essays offered in the Composing Section was excellent this year. There was wonderful scope and variety in the seven essay titles offered to students. Students were invited to write on stimulating and engaging topics including “the values held by people of your age in Ireland in 2019” and on how “We are a self-obsessed generation”. There was a slight twist on the ‘speech’ task where for the first time students were invited to write a “speech to be broadcast online”. The personal essays are always a popular choice with students so the titles here also offered plenty of creative scope. Candidates were invited to “reflect on what feeds your imagination” or “reflect on the places that have helped to shape and define you.” The essays overall were very fair and do-able. Yet, there was also plenty of opportunity for the high-fliers to showcase their command of English and written expression. Overall, English Paper One was a stimulating and enjoyable paper with a few twists on questions but no major unwelcome surprises.