Leaving Cert Predictions 2017

There appears to be a logic to how the SEC structures papers. For HL English poetry, a woman, an Irish person, somebody who hasn't come up in a while... Yes, that's right - there appears to be a logic to SEC decisions, but they don't make any promises.
Be careful with predictions.
Are these patterns are too broad to lead to a definite conclusion? Let's see. Our advice is that you can take risks, but don't ever risk complete ruin. How to do that? Read on.

The day after the English Papers are finished, there's always an article in some Irish newspaper or blog saying that the paper wasn't fair. The only way the paper wouldn't be fair is if you felt it owed you something. It doesn't. We are all in the same boat, and what will definitely come up on the exam is unknowable (unless you want to try and infiltrate the SEC - I think they are in Westmeath).

Your very clever teacher may say: "I've a feeling Durcan will be on". What you may not be consciously aware of is that next week they may say: "I've a feeling that Bishop is going to come up, sure, Plath's been done to death." And so they repeat their clever predictions five times, so that you revise five poets. With four poets of the paper, having revised five properly, you are 100% percent prepared. They are really clever, those teachers.

The table below has every poet that has been on the syllabus since 2011. The guys in bold are the ones that came up. The observations at the bottom of the table identify the patterns.

Irish man 1 Kavanagh Kavanagh Kinsella Yeats Montague Durcan Durcan
Irish man 2 Yeats Heaney Mahon Heaney Yeats Yeats

British man 1 Hopkins Larkin Hopkins Larkin Donne Larkin Donne
British man 2 Wordsworth

Wordsworth Kinsella Hardy

Generic woman Boland Boland Bishop Bishop Ní Chuilleanáin Bishop Boland
American woman 1 Dickinson Plath Plath Dickinson Dickinson Dickinson Bishop
American woman 2 Rich Rich

Plath Plath Ní Chuilleanáin Plath
The other yank (M/F) Frost Frost Rich

Frost Eliot Eliot

Kinsella Shakespeare Mahon

Plath Keats

Observations 2 women 1 woman 2 women 2 women 1 woman 2 women More women?

1 Brit 1 Brit 1 Brit 1 Brit 1 Brit

1 Irish man 2 Irish men 1 Irish man 1 Irish man 1 Irish man 1 Irish man More Irish men?

1 American man 1 American man

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Complete Guide: A1 Leaving Cert English Notes and Sample Answers 2017
Complete Guide: A1 Leaving Cert English Notes and Sample Answers 2018

Carrie Bradshaw had a point. The immediate conclusion is to give up on men. American men, most of all.

Seriously though, women seem to come up with 100% certainty - as do Irish men.

1. Revise five poets well.
Limit it to women or Irish men if you're a badass. No promises though. It's not like you'll be able to take the SEC to court for sexism/racism should they decide to change it up!

2. Know your quotations.
As a rough guide, try to have a quotation, even a short one, 3-4 times per average paragraph.

3. Don't be afraid of new essay titles.
All essay titles are slightly mutated clones of each other. Don't be thrown. Every single poetry essay title asks you to discuss two things in the broadest sense: imagery (how things are described) and themes (what is described and what does it mean). You know what to say. You've done it before. Lakes-birds-metaphors-alliteration-iambic-pentameter and love-country-childhood-loneliness-satire-philosophy... Ok, there's more finesse to it, but you won't be asked to split the atom.
Don't all these titles below look quite alike? 
Poet A uses <adjective> imagery to discuss <adjective> subject matter
Poet A is an <adjective> observer of reality that is enhanced by <adjective> subject matter
Reading the poetry of Poet A’s can be both an uplifting and a disturbing experience
Poet A’s poetry is full of <negative emotion> with occasional glimpses/moments of <positive emotion>
Obviously, the exact "adjectives" are important, but they aren't game changing. See more detail on this here: Paul Durcan: what to expect on the paper

4. Try* to mention six poems. 
*This depends on the poet. In my actual LC I wrote about four of Eliot's poems. It depends on the depth you go into.
However, the marking scheme does say: "Normally the study of at least six poems by each poet would be expected. (DES English Syllabus, 6.3)". "Study", not "mention", but by and large, six is a good aim.


5. Engage with the poems.
Don't write a paragraph about a poet's life and so on without talking about a specific poem. The context is important: Durcan's relationship with his father, Bishop's troubled childhood, etc. The context is only a supporting part. The main focus is on the poem. 

6. Don't obsess about being exactly right. 
The examiner is required to keep an open mind as per the marking scheme. Make your points and back them up.
"Note that there is not a finite list of any ‘poet’s themes and interests".

7. Show your writing skills. 
Don't summarise, back up your points, stay relevant to the question, proofread.... Read more in out Last Minute Tips and Leaving Cert Accuracy of Mechanics 101

As for single texts, there really isn't much point in trying to predict it. It's always somewhat different angles on the same core themes. We go into depth on that in the Complete Revision Guides for 2017 and 2018

Similarly, with the theme for Paper 1. What difference will it really make if I told you the theme was going to be Peace, or Diversity, or whatever? Your writing skill and ability to draw on your reading of the texts and previous experiences won't be much enhanced if you spend 4 weeks thinking about the theme.

Best of luck

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