Leaving Cert Exam Review 2019

English Paper 2 review by Sinead Caslin-Cregg

The Second part of the Leaving Certificate English exam was a challenging one which would have tested many students.Paper Two required a lot of lateral thinking from students ,especially in the Single Text Section. Both questions on the play Macbeth were challenging and difficult,particularly for weaker students.There was no obvious ‘character based question’ as in previous years.This year students were invited to discuss “Shakespeare’s use of language and imagery” and how it “plays an important part in developing our understanding of one of the following: themes / characterisation/setting/atmosphere.” The other option was to discuss “Shakespeare’s use of horrific,bizarre and unbelievable elements” to heighten “the tragic intensity of the play”. These questions were quite unlike anything that appeared on previous exams and would have tested even the best students.The SEC seem to be moving away from rewarding students’ learned material on themes / character development,etc. and instead inviting students to think on their feet and discuss material from a more unfamiliar angle.
The other sections of the exam were much fairer and more straight forward.As predicted, the General Vision and Viewpoint appeared on the Comparative study Section. Students would also have been pleased with the Poetry section where Yeats,Kennelly, Plath and Bishop came up.Two Irish poets and two female poets offered plenty of choice,with the questions being very fair and do-able.
Overall, a testing paper but with a good variety of questions offered.