The general theme of the paper was BEING A LEADER, which was then applied in separate texts to sport, politics and business. This provided both consistency and variety, a lovely balance on an Ordinary Level English examination paper. No candidate with any usual range of interests could have felt excluded or poorly catered for.
The texts themselves were lively, relevant and colourfully written. Two in particular, I think – the piece on the Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll and the account of how Google was co-founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page – would have been exciting and stimulating reads for most candidates. The third text was an extract from President Mary McAleese’s speech on leaving office last year, an up-to-date, important and colourfully personal talk that would appeal to anyone even vaguely interested in public affairs.
The range of Comprehension questions set on the text was as expected, without shocks or surprises, but the questions themselves were often phrased in a stimulating way. Candidates were required to closely read the text, but also given the freedom to express their individual responses, insights and appreciation. I doubt if there were any complaints.
There were no surprises in the tasks set for Question B, the short exercise in functional writing. They ranged from personal narrative – three diary entries – to the expression of opinion – in a letter and a talk. Something for everyone here, in terms of both genre and content, with the topics including personal achievement, hopes for Ireland’s future and what it takes to be a successful Student Council leader. A fair selection.
The Compositions were also varied and stimulating, while remaining accessible. Candidates had a wide choice, between personal pieces, opinion pieces, and short stories. The topics included fame, the importance of cultural pursuits, technology, personal influences and interesting places.
Overall, the paper was interesting, stimulating and generous. Few, if any, complaints.