Examwatch: our last-minute Leaving Cert exam tips

Baffled by the choice and changes in this year’s papers? We’ve advice from the experts

This year’s Leaving Cert exam papers have more choice than ever. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

This year’s Leaving Cert exam papers have more choice than ever. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times


This year’s exam papers have more choice than ever. If it all feels a bit confusing, we’ve asked the exam experts for some top tips on how to navigate your way through them:


1. For the document question, make a quick plan after reading the passage of the points you’ll make, and highlight the sections you’ll be referencing so that you can easily locate them as you’re writing.

2. Watch out for timing: make a note in your plan at the beginning of the exam for what time you’d want to aim to be finished each essay by, and try to stick to that timing.

3. Plan each essay in accordance to each question: you could write an amazing essay on the Moon landing, but if it doesn’t answer the question, you’ll lose marks!

Advice provided courtesy of Studyclix.ie


1. For the ABQ, try having a couple of different highlighters ready and then highlight all the content in the passage relevant to each section of the question with a particular colour. This will save you time instead of having to look for the relevant information from the text each time.

2. Don’t panic if you can’t answer a question. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you know the answer, you put in the work and you can do it! If you start to get worried in the exam, then you could ruin your mindset for other questions, so really don’t let one question throw you off.

3. Keep it concise: try to only include the relevant information needed in each of your answers and avoid waffle. It will save you time & make the marking process easier for the examiner if they don’t have to sift through unnecessary information.

Advice provided courtesy of Studyclix.ie

Irish paper one

1. On paper 1, fully translate all of the potential options on the ceapadóireacht section before you start writing. Very often, one word/verb can make a huge difference to the overall meaning of a title, so tread carefully.

2. Plan out each paragraph of the composition before you start writing. If you find yourself running out of ideas for the third paragraph in your plan, perhaps you should look at an alternative title. Only use a seanfhocal if it’s appropriate and blends in with the topic nicely.

3. Seriously consider both the comhrá and díospóireacht options on Paper 1. Equip yourself with sufficient debate and speech type phrases to ensure that these options remain open to you.

4. For the cluastuiscint, make sure to focus on the dialects that you struggle with. In particular, the Donegal dialect has a lot of “ú” sounds which are actually words ending in “adh” or “amh”. Revise numbers, Irish place names and common job titles in advance.

Advice provided courtesy of John Gavin of LeavingCertIrish.com

Irish paper two

1. Be very careful when answering question 6 (b) on the reading comprehension. Make sure that you answer the question in your own words only. Do not be tempted into recycling some of the phrases in the passage.

2. You can choose to focus on either the prose or poetry this year. In the case of the prose, you should always make reference to the core text in your answers, so have a minimum of 3-4 quotations learned off by heart. Same applies for the additional text i.e. quotations are essential.

Advice provided courtesy of John Gavin of LeavingCertIrish.com