Junior Cycle English

March 11, 2017 admin No comments exist

Junior Cycle English

What is the new Junior Cycle English truly all about? That is the question many students, parents and teachers are asking right now. Well, here at JC-Learn we have the answers.

The specification for Junior Cycle English focuses on the development of language and literacy in and through the three strands: Oral Language, Reading, and Writing. The elements of each of these strands place a focus on communicating, on active engagement with and exploration of a range of texts , and on acquiring and developing an implicit and explicit knowledge of the shape and structures of language.

 Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are the underlying fundamentals within every new Junior Cycle subject. The Junior Cycle English course has 39 learning outcomes. You don’t necessarily need to know every one, but you should know that there are 13 in the Oral Strand, 13 in the Reading Strand and 13 and the Writing Strand. They are basically just statements of what the students are expected to learn throughout the three years.

Junior Cycle English Assessment

Junior Cycle English has a range of assessments:

  • Two Classroom-Based Assessments.
  • An Assessment Task (To be completed after the second Classroom-Based Assessment)
  • Final Examination in June

Classroom-Based Assessments

The first Classroom-Based Assessment (CBA) is an oral presentation. It should be completed at the end of second year. Students are given an opportunity to choose a topic or issue that is of interest or importance to them and to carry out an exploration over time. The development of basic research skills will be central here, e.g. searching for information, reading and note-making, organising material, using key questions to give shape to ideas, developing a point of view, preparing a presentation.

The second Classroom-Based Assessment is the Collection of Texts (opinion piece, descriptive piece, functional writing, narrative etc). This Classroom-Based Assessment offers students a chance to celebrate their achievements as creators of texts by compiling a collection of their texts in a variety of genres over time and choosing a two of their pieces to present for summative assessment.

Although the assessment is similar to the formative assessment that occurs every day in class, in the case of classroom-based assessment the teacher’s judgement is recorded for Subject Learning and Assessment Review (meetings where teachers will share and discuss samples of their assessments of student work and build a common understanding about the quality of student learning) and is used in the school’s reporting to parents and students. Classroom-Based Assessment is not continuous assessment. Students prepare for the tasks over time, but the results of homework or tests done by the students in the course of their normal classwork do not add up to a final grade.


  • The Classroom-Based Assessments are Common Level assessments, therefore students are not required to indicate their intention to take the Final Exam at Higher or Ordinary Level at this point in their junior cycle. The teacher awards a level of achievement for each of the assessments by reference to the Features of Quality (see below).


Features of Quality for Classroom-Based Assessments

The features of quality are the criteria that will be used to assess the student work as best fitting one of the following Descriptors:

  • Exceptional describes a piece of work that reflects all of the Features of Quality for the Classroom- Based Assessment to a very high standard.
  • Above expectations describes a piece of work that reflects the Features of Quality for the Classroom-Based Assessment very well.
  • In line with expectations describes a piece of work that reflects most of the Features of Quality for the Classroom-Based Assessment well.
  • Yet to meet expectations describes a piece of work that falls someway short of the demands of the Classroom-Based Assessment and its associated Features of Quality.

*These gradings of the Classroom-Based Assessments replace the old A, B, C… system, as they give you a stronger description as to what standard you are at.

*The Oral Communication and Collection of Student Texts are both Classroom Based Assessments and will not be worth any percentage of the final grade of the SEC exam. They will be reported separately on the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement using the Features of Quality.

Assessment Task

Students complete a formal written Assessment Task to be submitted to the State Examinations Commission for marking along with the Final Examination for English. It is worth 10% of your overall grade. The Assessment Task links to the principal objective of The Collection of the Student’s Texts (The second Classroom-Based Assessment).

Varying from year to year, the Assessment Task will be devised from some or all of the following elements:

  • A short stimulus in written, audio or audio-visual format
  • Comprehension of and short written response to the stimulus
  • A written task that tests the students in:
    • their ability to link the stimulus to their experience of The Collection of the Student’s Texts
    • their understanding and evaluation of that experience
    • their capacity to reflect on the skills they have developed.


  • This second Classroom-Based Assessment, followed by the Assessment Task, should be completed in December of third year. However, about 30,000 students haven’t completed this as teachers in the ASTI union refuse to undertake it with their students. The department have now confirmed that these students will not lose on out on marks. They have given new deadlines: 24th March 2017 for the second CBA, and between April 24th to April 28th 2017 for the Assessment Task.

What is clear is that you do not need to stress about your AT. It is only worth 10% of your overall grade and therefore will not have a huge impact on the outcome of your exam. Think about it as an opportunity to be creative / imaginative and to illustrate just how good you can be when given time and the opportunity to write about something you are interested in.

Final Assessment

This is the paper that is causing the most confusion amongst student, teachers and parents. It is a 2 hour long exam, with a total of 180 marks and has both a higher and ordinary level paper. There is no set format to this paper as it changes from year to year. However, if you read the instructions carefully, the paper is very manageable. Students declared after this new English mock paper that timing was a huge issue, so you must account for this. Follow this rule: spend 10 minutes for every 15 marks.

The Junior Cycle English final exam covers three general areas:

  • Responding to an unfamiliar text (poem, article, review, extract from novel etc.)
  • Responding to a studied text (poems, play, novel or film). You must prepare to discuss themes, setting, plot, language, techniques, imagery and stage directions.
  • Writing for a variety of purposes – prepare to write in various forms (article, short story, blog, review etc)

Advice on exam:

  • Express and enjoy yourself
  • Be confident
  • Write as much as you can
  • Be imaginative and creative
  • Leave your own personal stamp on the paper – show your passion for the language

To find out the studied texts you must answer questions on in this final exam, click here!

The terminal exam – the paper students will sit next June – will be worth 90% of the overall grade.

The final exam will be reported using the following grading system:

Distinction ≥90 to 100
Higher Merit ≥75 and <90
Merit ≥55 and <75
Achieved ≥40 and <55
Partially Achieved ≥20 and <40
(not graded) ≥0 and <20


Reporting on Junior Cycle English

Each student will be awarded the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) from the school. The JCPA will reflect all of the different assessment elements undertaken over the three years of Junior Cycle and will reflect State Examinations Commission subject results, classroom- based assessments, wellbeing, short courses and other areas of learning. This is the new equivalent of the old Junior Cert Certificate result sheet. The JCPA will have a nationally determined format. It will be compiled by the school and received by students in the autumn following third year, when all assessment results from the SEC and the school are available and confirmed.

So, there is a lot of information to digest here. However, the calculation of your final grade will be decided in its entirety by an outside examiner. You will receive 2 grades when your results are delivered. The first will consist of a simple statement of assessment by your teacher on your work and ability (focusing on the two CBAs and general continual assessment). The 2nd, compiled by the SEC, will replace the old A,B,C, D, E, F grades with the list presented above (focused on your final exam and assessment task).

At ExamLearn, we feel true pity for students who simply cannot get their heads around this new Junior Cycle English course. For this reason, we have condensed all the long, complicated ‘framework documents’ published by the department into as concise a document as we could, while containing all the necessary information. We are in the process of creating detailed notes and exam answers to help students tackle this new experience, so be sure the sign up to ExamLearn today.


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