Exam Review 2023 – English Paper One

By Yeats College English teacher Ms. Sinead Caslin Cregg

English Paper One was a very fair and enjoyable paper with no major unwelcome surprises. The majority of students should be very pleased with the exam questions, which were phrased nicely and offered lots of scope for both creativity and discursive flair.

The theme of Paper One 2023 was “Between Two Worlds”. The three texts in the Comprehension posed no major difficulties in terms of language and comprehension. Thankfully, no elements of Paper Two appeared on this exam, as was the case in 2019 and 2018, where a ‘literature based question’ appeared. In the Comprehending section, the accompanying questions were similar on each of the three texts. Question (i) was worth fifteen marks and asked students to discuss “three insights you gained” into some aspect of the accompanying text. Question (ii) was more of an opinion based question which asked students to react to / agree with an element of what they had read in the text. Question (iii) was worth 20 marks, as in previous years, and invited students to discuss the language features used by the writer. The questions were very manageable on all three texts.

The Question B tasks were very straight forward and encouraged students to use their imaginative, creative streaks. The three options were “a personal letter”, “a personal reflection” and “an article.” The only unexpected element here was the Text 2 option of a “personal reflection”. This was a new style of exam question and may have surprised some students. However, there was a choice of three Question Bs and I feel the Text 3 option may prove to be a popular choice among students; the article “about the increasing role played by technology in schools”.

The range of essay titles offered in the Composing Section was excellent this year. There was wonderful scope and variety in the seven essay titles offered to students. Option one was a “short story” about “a confused character in a mysterious setting.” This would appeal to students who enjoy writing creatively. Option seven asked for a “discursive essay about the impact of influential individuals in today’s world.” This issue of ‘influences’ is very topical and it would suit a lot of students. The personal essays are always a popular choice with students and the two titles here offered plenty of creative scope. Candidates were invited to “reflect on some of the things that bring excitement and wonder into your life” in option six. I expect this to be a popular choice among students. The essay titles 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, the English Paper One exams at both Higher and Ordinary Level were very fair and enjoyable with no major surprises.