Leaving Cert English

Leaving Cert English helpful information:

General Information

The English syllabus at Leaving Cert centres around two general areas:

  • Comprehension; and
  • Composition.

In the comprehension section of the syllabus students learn how language shapes experiences through style and context.

In the compositon assignments,students will develop skills to use language to shape and order experience for themselves. The aim of the syllabus is to create a respect and recognition for language used accurately. This improves students proficiency in oral and written language skills. In addition the syllabus aims to give students an appreciation for English poetry and literature.

The exam at both higher and ordinary levels requires the student to sit two papers.

English is a compulsory subject for all those sitting the Leaving Certificate.

 

Leaving Certificate Examination 2014 - English

Students are required to study one text on its own, from the following texts

Circle of Friends - Maeve Binchy (Ordinary Level)

It began with Benny Hogan and Eve Malone, growing up, inseparable, in the village of Knockglen. Benny—the only child, yearning to break free from her adoring parents...Eve—the orphaned offspring of a convent handyman and a rebellious blueblood, abandoned by her mother's wealthy family to be raised by nuns. Eve and Benny—they knew the sins and secrets behind every villager's lace curtains...except their own.

It widened at Dublin, at the university where Benny and Eve met beautiful Nan Mahlon and Jack Foley, a doctor's handsome son. But heartbreak and betrayal would bring the worlds of Knockglen and Dublin into explosive collision. Long-hidden lies would emerge to test the meaning of love and the strength of ties held within the fragile gold bands of a...Circle Of Friends.

THEME / ISSUE: Relationships, Women, Loyalty and Betrayal

GENRE - This is a novel of social realism written in the third person narrative voice. The novelist makes extensive use of dialogue.

CULTURAL CONTEXT - The social background of this novel is rural and urban Ireland in the mid fifties. The Catholic faith is strong.

Circle of Friends

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen - Higher & Ordinary)

Pride And Prejudice, the story of Mrs. Bennet's attempts to marry off her five daughters is one of the best-loved and most enduring classics in English literature. Excitement fizzes through the Bennet household at Longbourn in Hertfordshire when young, eligible Mr. Charles Bingley rents the fine house nearby. He may have sisters, but he also has male friends, and one of these—the haughty, and even wealthier, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy—irks the vivacious Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the Bennet girls. She annoys him. Which is how we know they must one day marry. The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and Darcy is a splendid rendition of civilized sparring. As the characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, Jane Austen's radiantly caustic wit and keen observation sparkle.

THEMES: Love, Class, Courtship, Reputation, Journeys

GENRE: Comedy of manners

CULTURAL CONTEXT: The background of this novel is England in the mid nineteenth century.  Austin’s social world is restricted to dealing mainly with the middle classes

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Pride

Empire of the Sun - JG Ballard's (Higher and Ordinary Level)

Empire of the Sun is the story of a young boy in Shanghai who witnesses the outbreak of World War II and the bombing of Nagasaki.

THEMES - Coming of age, Change and transformation, Clashes of culture, War

GENRE·  The novel, although written in the third person narrative, is semi-autobiographical and is based on Ballard's childhood.

CULTURAL CONTEXT -The story is set during the time period between the attack on Pearl Harbour to the liberation of China after the surrender of Japan in September 1945.

The story is set in Shanghai.

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Empire of the Sub

How many miles to Babylon - Jennifer Johnston (Ordinary Level)

Alec and Jerry shouldn't have been friends: Alec's life was one of privilege, while Jerry's was one of toil. But this hardly mattered to two young men whose shared love of horses brought them together and whose whole lives lay ahead of them. When war breaks out in 1914, both Jerry and Alec sign up - yet for quite different reasons.

GENRE This novel is written in the genre of social realism, which means that it does not exceed the limits of reality. The characters are identifiably accurate as historical types, being Anglo Irish gentry and Catholic in Ireland of the early 20th century.

THEMES & ISSUES - War, Isolation Friendship

CULTURAL CONTEXT Alex and Jerry live in close proximity to one another, but are far apart with respect to their backgrounds. Jerry is part of the Catholic underclass,  educated in an ordinary school and left at a young age to work, whereas Alex is an only child of a wealthy Anglo Irish couple, he was educated at home and learnt the piano. These two characters have very different cultures.

How many miles to Babylon

Macbeth - William Shakespeare (Higher & Ordinary Level)

In MacbethWilliam Shakespeare's tragedy about power, ambition, deceit, and murder, the Three Witches foretell Macbeth's rise to King of Scotland but also prophesy that future kings will descend from Banquo, a fellow army captain. Prodded by his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth, he murders King Duncan, becomes king, and sends mercenaries to kill Banquo and his sons. His attempts to defy the prophesy fail, however;Macduff kills Macbeth, and Duncan's son Malcolm becomes king.

THEMES: The Fall of Man, Fortune, Fate, and Free will, Kingship and Natural Order, Disruption of Nature, Gender Roles, Reason Versus Passion

GENRE: Drama; Tragedy

CULTURAL CONTEXT: The play is set in 17th century Scotland. The King is a monarch with divine rights. His murder is seen to be a sacrilege in this culture at this time.

Download for free from getfreeebooks.com

Macbeth

Translations - Brian Friel (Higher and Ordinary)

The action takes place in late August 1833 at a hedge-school in the townland of Baile Beag, an Irish-speaking community in County Donegal. In a nearby field camps a recently arrived detachment of the Royal Engineers, making the first Ordnance Survey. For the purposes of cartography, the local Gaelic place names have to be recorded and rendered into English. In examining the effects of this operation on the lives of a small group, Brian Friel skillfully reveals the far-reaching personal and cultural effects of an action which is at first sight purely administrative.

THEMES: The Power of Language, Emmigration

GENRE:  Social realism target="_blank" rel="nofollow"Drama

 

Translations

Sive - John B Keane (Ordinary Level)

This is a story of greed, sex and bitterness, of a scheming matchmaker and a resentful woman forcing a beautiful young girl to marry an old man for money. Sive is a young and beautiful orphan who lives with her uncle Mike, his wife Mena and his mother Nanna. A local matchmaker, Thomasheen Sean Rua, wants Sive to marry an old man called Sean Dota. Thomasheen convinces Mike and Mena to organise the marriage. They will receive a sum of two hundred pounds as soon as she marries him. However, Sive is in love with a young man, Liam Scuab. But Liam is not suitable and is refused permission to marry Sive. Sive is distraught but is forced to do the will of her uncle and his bitter wife. Faced with an unthinkable future she takes the only choice left to her. Set against the harsh poverty and difficult times of 1950s Ireland, "Sive" caused considerable controversy on its debut in February 1959. Since then it has become an established part of Ireland's theatrical canon.

THEME: Love, Marriage, Money and Poverty

GENRE: The dialogue in the play is filled with conflict and realism.

CULTURAL CONTEXT: This play is set in Ireland in the fifties. It is a time of harsh poverty and people are measured in terms of the land and the crops they possess. 

Download Free Audio

SIVE

Never let me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - (Higher and Ordinary)

From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly reimagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love.

As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance–and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.

THEMES: The fear of disorganisation and abandonment; The psychical aftermath of childhood; and The relationship between the institutional and the personal

GENRE: The genre of this novel and is science fiction

Never let me go

Home before night - Hugh Leonard (Ordinary)

Hugh Leonard's delightful autobiographical evocation of his Dublin childhood in the thirties and forties is like an Irish Cider with Rosie- crammed with people and conversations, risch in poetry, full of love, laughter and rare pleasures

THEMES: Memories, Relationships, Poverty

GENRE: This book is an autobiography. It is written in both the first and third person narrative voice

CULTURAL CONTEXT: The cultural context of this story is Dublin in the 30's and 40's. This was a time of poverty.

 

Home before night

 

The comparative modes for examination in 2014
Higher Level (i) Cultural Context
(ii) General Vision and Viewpoint
(iii) Theme or Issue
Ordinary Level (i) Relationships
(ii) Social setting
(iii) Theme

Shakespearean Drama

At Higher Level a play by Shakespeare must be one of the texts chosen.

Poetry
Higher Level - eight poets are prescribed Elizabeth Bishop
Emily Dickinson
Seamus Heaney
Thomas Kinsella
Sylvia Plath
Philip Larkin
Derek Mahon
WB Yeats
Ordinary Level - 36 poems are prescribed  
Download Past State Exam Papers
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Statistics

Did you know?

In 2010 total of 33007 students took English at Leaving Cert . 18316 girls took English at Leaving Certificate higher level while 14691 boys did English at Higher Level in 2010.

  • 10.3% of students got an A
  • 26.9% of students got a B
  • 38.9 % of students got a C
  • 21.7% of students got a D
  • 1.6% of students failed

Single Text frequency

Emily Brontes -Wuthering Heights came up in the following years 2011,2011,2008,2007,2005

Jane Austens-Pride and Prejudice came up in the following years 2006

Shakespeare's- Hamlet came up in the following years 2012,2011,2005

Shakespeare's- Othello came up in the following years 2008

Shakespeare's- Macbeth came up in the following years 2009,2007

Shakespeare's- King Lear came up in the following years 2010

Shakespeare's- As you like It came up in the following years 2006

Brian Friels-Dancing at Lughnasa came up in 2012,2011

Henrik Ibsen's-A Doll's House came up in 2012,2011

Frank Galati's-The Grapes of Wrath came up in2011 and 2010

Arthur Millers- Death of a Salesman came up in 2007

Arthur Millers-The Crucible came up in 2008 and 2009

Eugene McCabes -Death and Nightingales came up in 2008 and 2006

George Elliots- Silas Mariner came up in 2005

Poetry Frequency

Patrick Kavanagh came up in 2012 and 2010

WB Yeats came up in 2011,2010 and 2005

Adrienne Rich came up in 2012,2010,2009 and 2008

Philip Larkin came up in 2012 and 2009

Emily Dickinson came up in 2011 and 2005

Robert Frost came up in 2011 and 2007

Eavan Boland came up in 2011 and 2005

Michael Longley came up in 2009 and 2006

Elixabeth Bishop  came up in  2009 and 2006

Derek Mahon  came up in 2009 and 2008

John Montague came up in  2009 and 2007

John Donne came up in 2008 and 2006

TS Eliot came up in 2007 and 2005

Thomas Hardy came up in 2006

John Keats came up in 2009

Exam Breakdown

Exam Breakdown Higher Level - Paper 1

Paper 1 - 170 Marks      
  Marks Comment 2010 2009 2008
Section 1 100 Answer Questions A & B. (35 minutes for each question) Comprehension 1.Personal Future 2.A Global Future 3. An Imagined Future Comprehension 1.Decisions for Society 2.Personal Decisions 3. The Decisive Moment Comprehension 1. TEENAGE IDENTITY. 2. FALSE IDENTITY? 3. Clues to Identity
Section 2 100 Answer 1 of 7 exercises. (Allow 70 minutes) Composition Composition Composition

 

 

Paper 1 - 170 Marks      
  Marks Comment 2007 2006 2005
Section 1 100 Answer Questions A & B. (35 minutes for each question) Comprehension - 1.FILMS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE .2. LONDON, PAST AND PRESENT 3. FORCES FOR CHANGE? Comprehension 1.“WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM, LADY SARAH?” 2.GHOST WRITING 3. PRETENCE Comprehension- 1.AN ORDINARY LIFE .2. ORDINARY LIVES IN WAR TIME . 3. PUBLIC LIVES
Section 2 100 Answer 1 of 7 exercises. (Allow 70 minutes) Composition Composition Composition

 

Exam Breakdown Higher Level - Paper 2

Paper 2 Marks Comment 2010 2009 2008
Section 1 Single Text 60 Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 55 minutes) Wuthering Heights/Dancing at Lughnasa / King Lear / The Grapes of Wrath/The Blackwater Lightship  1) Cat’s Eye, Margaret ATWOOD. 2) Regeneration, Pat BARKER. 3) Jane Eyre, Charlotte BRONTË. 4) The Crucible , Arthur MILLER. 5)Macbeth, William SHAKESPEARE 1) WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Brontë. 2) THE REMAINS OF THE DAY – Kazuo Ishiguro. 3) DEATH AND NIGHTINGALES –  Eugene McCabe. 4) THE CRUCIBLE – Arthur Miller. 5) OTHELLO – William Shakespeare  
Section 2 Comparative Study 70 Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 60 minutes) 1.GENERAL VISION AND VIEWPOINT / 2. LITERARY GENRE 1. THEME OR ISSUE / 2. THE CULTURAL CONTEXT 1. THEME OR ISSUE / 2. Literary Genre
Section 3 Poetry 70 Allow 60 minutes. Spend 45 minutes on the prescribed poem and 15 minutes on the Unseen poem. A. Unseem Poem : Seed- Paula Meehan B: WB Yeats, Adrienne Rich, Patrick Kavanagh,TS Eliot B: Prescribed Poetry, Elizabeth Bishop, John Keats, Philip Larkin, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, John Montague, Adrienne Rich, Derek Walcott A- Poem :Those Winter Sundays Robert Hayden . B: Prescribed Poetry, Philip Larkin , John Donne , Derek Mahon , Adrienne Rich 

 

 

Paper 2 Marks Comment 2007 2006 2005
Section 1 Single Text 60 Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 55 minutes) 1) Pride and Prejudice  Jane Austen. 2) Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë. 3) The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver. 4) Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller. 5) Macbeth -William Shakespeare. 1) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE  – Jane Austen. 2) B THE POISONWOOD BIBLE – Barbara Kingsolver. 3) C DEATH AND NIGHTINGALES – Eugene McCabe. 4) AS YOU LIKE IT – William Shakespeare. 5) KING LEAR– William Shakespeare  1) Wuthering Heights -Emily Brontë. 2) Silas Marner -George Eliott. 3) Amongst Women -John McGahern. 4) Hamlet     -William
Section 2 Comparative Study 70 Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 60 minutes) 1. THE GENERAL VISION AND VIEWPOINT / 2.THE CULTURAL CONTEXT 1. THEME OR ISSUE / 2. THE CULTURAL CONTEXT 1.THE GENERAL VISION AND VIEWPOINT 2.LITERARY GENRE
Section 3 Poetry 70 Allow 60 minutes. Spend 45 minutes on the prescribed poem and 15 minutes on the Unseen poem. A- Poem :Ben Ziman-Bright  Rhapsody   . B: Prescribed Poetry, Robert Frost , T.S. Eliot , John Montague, Sylvia Plath  A- Poem :Valentin Iremonger The Toy Horse. B: Prescribed Poetry, John Donne , Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Bishop, Michael Longley A- Poem :BACK YARD Carl Sandburg  . B: Prescribed Poetry, Eavan Boland, Emily Dickinson , T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats 

 

Exam Breakdown Ordinary Level

Comment Two Questions, A and B, follow each text.
Candidates must answer a Question A on one text and a Question B on a different
Candidates must answer only one Question A and only one Question B.(35 minutes for each question)
Paper 1 Marks 2010 2009 2008
Section 1 100 Comprehension-DANGEROUS CHALLENGES/ACROSS THE ATLANTIC IN A LEATHER BOAT/ FACING DANGER Comprehension -Topics Internet/Televison and Connections Comprehension-Topics Paradise/What does the Future Look like/ Irish Lifestyle
Comment Answer 1 of 7 exercises. (Allow 70 minutes)
Section 2 100 Composition Composition Composition
Paper 2 Comment   Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 55 minutes)
Section 1 Single Text 60 Wuthering Heights/ Dancing at Lughnasa /Sive /Lamb / Lies of Silence/ Panther in the Basement / King Lear /The Grapes of Wrath / The Blackwater Lightship  1) Cat’s Eye, Margaret ATWOOD. 2) Regeneration, Pat BARKER. 3) Circle of Friends Maeve Binchy 4) Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte. 5)SPIES – Michael Frayn 6) PHILADELPHIA, HERE I COME! – Brian Friel  7)THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME 1) WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Brontë. 2) THE REMAINS OF THE DAY – Kazuo Ishiguro. 3) DEATH AND NIGHTINGALES –  Eugene McCabe. 4) THE CRUCIBLE – Arthur Miller. 5) OTHELLO – William Shakespeare . 6)How Many Miles to Babylon? Jennifer Johnston .7) Lies of Silence Brian Moore.8)The Plough and the Stars-Sean OCasey. 9) The Importance of Being Earnest -Oscar Wilde
  – Mark Haddon, 8)THE CRUCIBLE – Arthur Miller, 9)MACBETH – William Shakespeare
Comment Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 60 minutes)  
Section 2 Comparative Study 70 A HERO/HEROINE/VILLAIN/ B THEME 1.Social setting / 2 .Theme 1. RELATIONSHIPS/ 2.Social Setting 
Comment Allow 60 minutes. Spend 45 minutes on the prescribed poem and 15 minutes on the Unseen poem.  
Section 3 Poetry 70 A UNSEEN POEM-Nettles . Prescribed Poetry Fleur Adcock, Paula Meehan,  TS Eliot, WB Yeats A: Unseen Poetry: Robert Hershon SENTIMENTAL MOMENT B: Prescribed Poetry, Siegfrid Sasson ,Elizabeth Bishop, Rosita Boland, , Philip Larkin, Michael  A- Poem :Seagull Brian McCabe . B: Prescribed Poetry, Maya Angelou Paul Durcan, Derek Mahon , Adrienne Rich 

 

 

Comment Two Questions, A and B, follow each text.
Candidates must answer a Question A on one text and a Question B on a different
Candidates must answer only one Question A and only one Question B.(35 minutes for each question)
Paper 1 Marks 2007 2006 2005
Section 1 100 Comprehension-Topics The Rescue(tom Crean)/A Champion on the Run (Derval O'Rourke)/ THE MANY FACES OF SUCCESS Comprehension-Topics-MASTERING FEAR/ INVASION / THE HORROR INDUSTRY Comprehension-Topics-What Freedom means to me…/NOT SO FREE…/IMAGES OF FREEDOM
Comment Answer 1 of 7 exercises. (Allow 70 minutes)
Section 2 100 Composition Composition Composition
Paper 2 Comment   Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 55 minutes)
Section 1 Single Text 60 1) Pride and Prejudice  Jane Austen. 2) Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë. 3) The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver. 4) Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller. 5) Macbeth -William Shakespeare. 6)A Moment of War-Laurie Lee .7) Juno and the Paycock- Sean O’Casey. 8)A Slipping-Down Life– Anne Tyler .9)The Importance of Being Earnest -Oscar Wilde 1) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE  – Jane Austen. 2) B THE POISONWOOD BIBLE – Barbara Kingsolver. 3) C DEATH AND NIGHTINGALES – Eugene McCabe. 4) AS YOU LIKE IT – William Shakespeare. 5) KING LEAR– William Shakespeare 6)How Many Miles to Babylon?Jennifer Johnston. 7)A Moment of War-Laurie Lee.8)Juno and the Paycock- Sean O’Casey. 9) Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck 1) Wuthering Heights -Emily Brontë. 2) Silas Marner -George Eliott. 3) Amongst Women -John McGahern. 4) Hamlet     -William Shakespeare. 5) As You Like It -William Shakespeare. 6).Home Before Night-Hugh Leonard. 7) Fly Away Peter David Malouf. 8).Juno and the PaycockSean O’Casey. 9) Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
Comment Answer 1 of 2 questions. (Allow 60 minutes)  
Section 2 Comparative Study 70 1.HERO, HEROINE, VILLAIN / 2. THEME 1.ASPECTS OF STORY: TENSION OR CLIMAX OR RESOLUTION  2. SOCIAL SETTING 1.RELATIONSHIPS / 2.SOCIAL SETTING
Comment Allow 60 minutes. Spend 45 minutes on the prescribed poem and 15 minutes on the Unseen poem.  
Section 3 Poetry 70 A- Poem :DRIVING INTO HISTORY-Pat Boran- . B: Prescribed Poetry, Sharon Olds,Howard Nemerov, Robert Frost ,  John Montague,  A- Poem :Gareth Owen SONG OF THE CITY. B: Prescribed Poetry, Edward Thomas,TS Eliot, WB Yeats,  Patricia Beer,  A- Poem :A REMOVAL FROM TERRY STREET Douglas Dunn  . B: Prescribed Poetry, Patrick Kavanagh. D.H. Lawrence ,Michael Longley , Denise Levertov.

 

Paper Layout

Paper 1

Marks: 200
Time Allocated: 2 hours 50 minutes
Students must attempt the following :

Section I Comprehension

There are 100 marks awarded for this section and students should spend 85 minutes on this section.
 
There are three pieces of text and students must answer a Question A on one text and a Question B on a different text. Students must answer only one Question A and only one Question B.
 
N.B. Students may NOT answer a Question A and a Question B on the same text
 
You will be asked questions on three pieces of text about a certain theme. When answering the questions associated with the texts you should make sure to:
  • Answer the question you are asked. 
  • Make valid points and support your answer.
  • Where relevant, when answering you should show your awareness of the audience/ topic, and make sure your answer is clear, precise and confident.  Students are asked two questions on each piece of text. 

Section 2 Composition

There are 100 marks awarded for this section and students should spend 85 minutes on this section. Students must write on one of the compositions 1 – 7.
 
When writing the essay bear in mind to use persuasive language, ensure your ideas are clear and precise; use descriptive language and imagery (where relevant). 

Paper 2

Marks: 200
Time Allocated: 3 hours 30 minutes
Students must attempt the following :
 

ONE question from SECTION I 

The Single Text (60 marks awarded for this question students should spend 60 minutes on this)
 

ONE question from SECTION II

The Comparative Study (70 marks awarded for this question students should spend 70 minutes on this)
 

ONE question on the Unseen Poem from SECTION III

Poetry (35 marks awarded for this question students should spend 35 minutes on this)
 

ONE question on Prescribed Poetry from SECTION III

Poetry (35 marks awarded for this question students should spend 35 minutes on this)
 
You will be examined on the Single text, the comparative study and poetry.  You are required to answer one question on a Shakespearean play e.g. Hamlet. When answering the questions on the single text you should make sure to display a good knowledge of the text and characters and support your answer with references. For the comparative text, you should make sure to sustain comparisons throughout your answer. In Section III Poetry, in answering you should try and show a good understanding of the poem and support your answer with quotes.
 
 
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