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Leaving Cert English 2017 - A Review of Paper 2

August 30, 2017

Paper 2 mk. 2017 was a further signal the debate over which poets appear and/or should appear on the paper is dead – at least according to those in know.

Instead, this was an exam paper that celebrated literature as relevant, moving and thought-provoking, and focused on its power and purpose throughout.

Widely tipped poets John Donne and Eavan Boland appeared while section one presented compelling reviews of studied texts. Jane Austen’s Emma, meanwhile, was lambasted as a ‘frivolous romance of limited appeal.’

This description seems even harsher given that Shakespeare’s Hamlet was described as ‘a disturbing psychological thriller’ in the very next question!

Continuing with the trend of predictability, albeit regarding challenging content, even the question on Eavan Boland was no surprise; examiners assessed students on her use of symbol and metaphor to explore personal experience and deliver penetrating truths about society.

Similarly, the question on Keats was quite predictable: his use of sensuous language and imagery, and his expression of profound tensions, perhaps a given seeing that he died in his mid-20s.

The most challenging question was the single text question, which challenged the student to think critically. Students had to discard much of what they learned off on characters and themes and think about the play’s structure, and how its various elements combined to make a thriller that was both disturbing and psychological.

Moreover, the range of question in this section challenged students to demonstrate a good knowledge of marginal characters such as Laertes and Horatio.

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