In 2014 a new approach to Junior Certificate English was introduced for students entering secondary school. Those students are now in 3rd Year and will be the first group to sit the Junior Cycle English Exam in 2017. Before looking closely at that, however, let’s just glance back briefly to 2014 and recall what the original plan was.
It was great! As part of the new JCSA (Junior Cycle Student Award), instead of the Junior Cert approach of simply reading and writing, students would also now be speaking and listening. And instead of trudging through a single play, a single novel and a handful of poems, while rote-learning quotes, students would engage with a wide variety of texts – oral, written, visual and multimodal – all designed to stimulate, engage, inspire and challenge them. PLUS students would create their own texts.
As for the terminal exam, it would still be there, but it would be two hours rather than five, and worth only 60% of the total grade. The other 40% would be awarded for a portfolio of work (25%) and an oral presentation (15%).
Fast forward to 2017. The 40% assessment component of the course has been removed, and the two-hour exam is now worth 90% of the overall grade. The other 10% is awarded for an Assessment Task, which some students have already done and others are still waiting to do.
But, here’s the good news! The baby has not been thrown out with the bathwater. The educational philosophy that underpins the new Junior Cycle English Course is still intact. More engagement with language for students, less focus on exam preparation. More skills and joined-up thinking, less rote learning. More exposure to a variety of texts, more enjoyment, more fun!
The two videos below are designed as a step-by-step guide for students preparing to take the New Junior Cycle English exam. The first video outlines WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE EXAM, while the second offers students THREE PIECES OF ADVICE.