English Paper 2 (H) 2017: A hugely important examination paper

 

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2017 English Paper 2 (Higher Level) by Jim Lusby, English teacher at The Institute of Education.

This is a hugely important examination paper that celebrates literature as relevant, moving and thought-provoking, rather than merely ‘relatable’. The facile debate about which poets appear on the paper is dead. The debate about the power and purpose of literature is given a transfusion.

English Higher Level Paper 2 displays a fascinating approach to literature that makes it clear that we must acknowledge both the world that the text comes from and the very different world that we bring to it as readers.

A contemporary critical concept such as ‘disturbing psychological thriller’ is applied to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The idea that a theme can appear more or less relevant today is offered for debate, and there are invitations to respond to poetry in terms of ‘penetrating truths about society’ and ‘profound tensions’.

THE SINGLE TEXT
Questions on each of the prescribed texts were fresh and inventive. Most candidates would have answered on Hamlet, and here the choice was between a really engaging discussion of the play as a ‘psychological thriller’ and a novel analysis of the secondary characters.

THE COMPARATIVE STUDY
As with the other sections of the examination paper, the expected areas turned up – Viewpoint and Theme – but the tasks were inventive and stimulating.

POETRY
Nobody could complain about the poets selected for the paper. Three of the ‘near-certainties’ appeared: Boland, Donne and Keats. Of far more importance is the subtlety of the phrasing in the questions, with a thought-provoking phrase or concept in each, such as ‘penetrating truths about society’, ‘a range of profound tensions’ and ‘life’s harsh realities’.


Reaction to Leaving Cert 2017 English Paper 2 (Ordinary Level) by Jim Lusby, English teacher at The Institute of Education.

An extremely friendly examination paper, with generous choices in all sections, interesting questions, enjoyable tasks and wonderful presentation.

Absolutely perfect for encouraging the Ordinary Level student to engage with literature pleasurably.