On Wednesday evening, after the shocking news about the English paper 2 fiasco, I got a text telling me not to panic, that I’d look back on the whole idiotic mix-up and laugh at how flustered I’d gotten.
Let me tell you all, there has been no laughter as of yet. This afternoon, there was no “Ah sure, an exam on a Saturday? This is a mad laugh!”, no “I ACED that!” and no “I can’t believe I got so freaked out about being the victims of an SEC shortcoming”. There was added stress, added exhaustion and added effort.
In my opinion, today’s paper wasn’t very nice. A lot of people seemed to be very happy with what came up, others not so much.
As soon as the papers were handed out, there were murmurings of “Bishop! Yes!” to be heard in my exam centre (Full of risk-taking repeats like myself) and this left me grinning, but further inspection wiped the smile and smug expression straight off my face.
First off- Poetry. Personally, I was pretty happy with the actual poets which appeared- I’d stayed up cramming for Elizabeth Bishop until the wee hours and knew her inside and out- but I thought the questions themselves were excessively tricky. Instead of being asked how we feel, or what aspects of the work appeal to us, we were tied down to specific questions- What questions Bishop poses in her work and the conflict in Walcott’s poems, for example.
It had all the signs of a poorly prepared paper and seemed almost like a poor Sample Paper, with the kind of questions found in our textbooks which our teachers warn us won’t actually show up on the REAL exam. They were all a bit convoluted, cornering students instead of leaving plenty of room for personal engagement and expansion like we’re all used to.
The lack of Longley threw a few people as well- myself included to a certain extent.
Weeks ago, I’d chosen him as my main poet to study, so convinced was I that he’d make an appearance. Unlike the dreaded Bishop, whose work is incredibly tedious, bland and overrated, Longley genuinely appealed to me.
Needless to say, my Bishop essay was an epic spiel of my adoration for the poet, but my enthusiasm was all fake as hell.
Straight after this, I took a shot at the Unseen Poetry. I forfeited my morals here because, after running out of things to say about why the frankly awful poem impacted on me, I tear-jerkingly told the examiner that I could identify with the subject matter as my own Father had recently passed away. Fortunately, my Father’s actually alive and well- but my personal response and engagement is absolutely BRILLIANT, and no examiner’s going to be able to resist giving me extra-high marks. I threw in some rubbish about the poem’s form and it being an “Emotional Journey and a moral landscape” which I didn’t mean either, so hopefully I’ll pick up a few nice marks here.
Next up, came the Comparative Study. Again, I felt the questions here were quite convoluted. I chose to write about Cultural Context as it’s all I had prepared, but it wasn’t just a case of “Talk about the IMPACT of Cultural Context on you”- it involved focusing on the characters and such. Not only this, but it specified that we had to talk about the MAIN character in each of the texts. As one of my texts was “My Oedipus Complex and other stories” by Frank O Connor, I was a little worried as there are several main characters throughout the anthology as opposed to just one. I decided that I was going to just write about them all, in any case, as I don’t think i could be penalised for it. It was the fault of the question for, quite frankly, being too narrow.
Finally, came Macbeth. At this stage, I was about 17 or 18 pages into my booklet, and the Red Bull which I’d foolishly drank before the exam was starting to wear off. I took a shot at answering on the consequences of Duncan’s murder on both MaccyB himself and Scotland, but I don’t think it was too epic. I’d learned a good few quotes, but I also found myself making one or two up. Or three or four. I didn’t really know the storyline all too well, but I actually think I did quite well on this, considering. It was probably my worst question, but it wasn’t too woeful. I’d imagine it’s definitely not below 45 or 50 out of 60 in any case.
Macbeth was pretty much the only place where the questions were quite lenient and broad, which I was particularly thankful for. They were no Banquo/ Deception though.
All in all, I’m quite happy with my own performance on the paper. I’ve always gotten A1s on paper 2, and I’m hoping this one won’t be an exception. I do, however, have my doubts.
The Paper, overall, was a bit nasty, and I really hope it’ll be marked easily and broadly as a result. A lot of students who may think they’ve done well certainly haven’t as far as I can see. I talked to a few people who were utterly thankful for Bishop, yet they didn’t actually ANSWER the question asked, they just stuck down a general response. I’m not going to be the one to tell them they’re epic failures, they’ll unfortunately see that in August. I foresee uproar.
The other paper would have been nicer, for me anyway, but there’s not much point saying “What if…?” now.
Anyway, I’m off to have an early night’s sleep- tomorrow’s going to be busy! With Maths paper 2 and Irish paper 1 on Monday, I really have to be on my game. Also, the stress factor of the Leaving Cert’s left me ratty as hell.