Going into post-primary academic life can be a challenge for many students, especially taking into account the new junior cycle structure and marking scheme.

That said, while the exam and curriculum might be a bit different, these differences are designed as to not be overwhelming and to help students thrive in their post-secondary academic future.

If you are wondering how you can achieve great results in your junior cert English exam or how to get the best possible resources for the JCT, keep reading so we can give you some tips, tricks, and specifics on the junior cert curriculum, junior cert English marking scheme and more!

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About the New Junior Cert

Common knowledge cited that the Junior Cycle is known as the stage of the education programme for post-primary education in the Republic of Ireland. That said, it is intended for students ages 12 to 15 (even though some adults can take it). Students normally take the examination at the age of 14 or 15 or after completing 3 years of post-primary education.

This evaluation is called Junior Cert or Junior Certificate and it was introduced in 1992. Nonetheless, it is now being replaced by new specifications and curriculum reforms which were first introduced in 2004 and are expected to be completed by the year 2022. This is commonly known as the "new junior cycle".

This replacement has caused some questioning among students looking to pass the evaluation since they are not quite aware of the new junior cycle. But the general way to understand it is as follows:

  • All students must follow courses in Irish (except where exemptions apply), English, and Mathematics.
  • From September 2020, students are also required to study History.
  • There may be other compulsory subjects, depending on the type of school. It is important to know that not all schools have all the subjects.
  • There are different levels of evaluation. Subjects are normally studied at either ordinary or higher level, although Irish and mathematics can also be studied at foundation level. In the case of English, it is studied at ordinary and higher level.

In the case of the junior cycle English assessment, it is important to understand the structure of the evaluation, the different subjects that you are expected to learn, and of course, the dates when the examination is conducted at a national level.

Do you need tips to write your essay?

Junior Cert English Marking Scheme

students studying together
Are you ready for junior cycle English? Source: Pexels

The Junior Cert English marking scheme has evolved a bit over the past years. The new Junior Cert is marked out of 200, of which the Final Examination is 180 marks (90%). The remaining 10% is achieved before the exam through an Assessment Task.

*That said, this year has seen a variation in marking. Following discussions between the Department of Education, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and the SEC and with COVID restrictions coming into play with less face-to-face studying affecting teachers and students overall performance, they have decided to reduce the marks from 200 to 140.*

There are also two Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) that are reported separately in the student's Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA). These CBAs are released about a month after Junior Certificate results.

The CBA results are reported as part of your JCPA in October. They are usually reported using the following scheme: Exceptional, Above Expectations, In-Line with Expectations, and Yet to Meet Expectations.

Also, the new Junior Cycle’s Final Examination Grades are different from the grading system that was used before so, if you want to get a certain result in your exams, you should definitely consider this.

Check out these English resources!

New Junior Cycle English Literature

student at school
Don't get discouraged! Source: Pexels

Literature is an essential part of the New Junior Cycle English. According to the official jct.ie website, the rationale is as follows:

"Language allows students to access the understanding, knowledge, and skills to promote their personal growth and effective participation in society. The study of language enables students to build on their learning in primary school and further develop their skills and enjoyment in using it effectively. Through language learning and use, students discover information, develop thinking, and express ideas and feelings. They learn about language, and how to use it well in all areas of their studies."

This is also why they consider that learning about language in texts, including digital texts, is important to social development and can aid in the future to meet the demands of academic life as well as employment, political, social, and cultural life.

This is where literature comes in since the student's ability to appreciate literature from different cultures is important in developing the whole person. As part of the junior cert curriculum, students read literature with insight and imagination not only in class but privately as well.

The literature students are expected to know and be able to both comprehend and analyse can vary from school to school, while also following the curriculum set by the overall programme. That said, there is a distinction between the authors and books read by ordinary and higher-level English students.

For example, this year a debate arose around the inclusion of Shakespeare as a requirement on English Higher Level candidates.

Normally, those who are considered “honours” English students have to write about a Shakespearean drama, but this year it’s optional. Why is this happening? Well, the overall purpose is to “lessen the load, as far as is reasonably possible” for candidates both in their preparation for the written exams and also on the day of the exam.

This means that the exams will run for the usual length of time, but students will have more choice and will be required to answer fewer questions.

That said, this is how the overall structure of the test will end up:

  • In Paper 1:
    • Section 1 (Comprehending) students will only have to answer one question. As the new SEC guidance states: “Instead of answering a Question A on one text and a Question B on another text, as is usually required, this year candidates will be required to answer only one question in Section I. “They must answer either one Question A or one Question B on one text in this section.”
    • In Section II of that paper (Composing) candidates will still have to write one composition from the usual list of seven. This composition will have a value of 100 marks, but the paper will be marked out of a total of 140 marks, instead of the 200 as in previous years.
  • In Paper 2 (poetry and prose):
    • Instead of answering on all three sections – Single Text, Comparative Study, and Poetry - students may choose to answer the required number of questions in any two of the sections.

Go to our English media guide for students. Learn how to take good notes.

Study for the JCT With a Private Tutor

Are you stressed about the Junior cert English exam? Or are you just looking to improve your knowledge to prepare for the coming assessment? Be as it may, the best thing is to have as many resources as possible available to you so you can build up your studying curriculum and be as prepared as possible.

This is where Superprof comes in. We have a wide network of private English tutors all across Ireland who are more than ready to help you reach your goals and get as prepared as possible to ace your exam.

The first step towards starting your classes is to go to our web and look up English tutors in your city or area. You can also look for tutors in Ireland as a whole if you are open to taking classes remotely or online (a great way to learn as well!).

The next thing you need to do is check out all of the tutors' profiles: their academic experience, years of experience teaching English, their professional background, and approach if they have any experience preparing students for the JCT. The right teacher will check all the boxes you need so make sure that you ask as many questions as possible so you can connect with someone who will actually get you where you need to go.

Another good way to assess whether the tutor is a good fit or not is to look at other students' reviews. These students have already had the opportunity to take classes with the said tutor so it's a great way to get unbiased information about their teaching method.

Most of the professors or tutors on our platform also offer a first-class for free. This free class is oftentimes conducted as an interview where both you and the tutor will be able to ask each other all of the questions that you consider relevant before committing to a set of lessons. Make sure that you both establish clear goals and that you understand what each of you will be doing to reach those goals.

Don't hesitate and start preparing for your JCT English with a Superprof private tutor!

Looking for English courses for adults? Check out these English past papers.

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Andrea

Communications consultant and content creator. Foodie, traveller and music lover.