Leaving Certificate English is mandatory and, as a result of this, is the most completed exam among Leaving Cert participants. It tests students on a variety of both studied and unseen material, mainly focusing on examining expression and comprehension. While timing is important in all exams, it is imperative that students time all their answers in English if they wish to receive a high grade. It is more important to spend the extra 10 minutes you want to spend improving existing answers on your unanswered questions as this will most definitely maximise your marks.

In addition to this, the exam is not made to ‘catch out’ students, but rather to allow students to properly express what they already know. The exam is marked on the ‘PCLM‘ marking scheme and places emphasis on:
– 30% ‘Clarity of Purpose’ – Ensures the students answer responds to the question and isn’t learned off
– 30% ‘Coherence of Delivery’ – sustain your response throughout the entire answer and shape the ideas you present correctly
– 30% ‘Efficiency of Language’ – sentences flow naturally
– 10% ‘Accuracy of Mechanics’ – spelling and grammar.

Another important point worth mentioning is to ensure you don’t neglect Paper One, although the material isn’t prescribed, you can still study for it.

Exam Layout?

Paper I
170 mins and 200 marks
Section I
Three texts are presented to you on a general theme. Two sets of questions, an A and a B follow each text. You must answer a question A on one text and a question B on a different text. [100 marks]

Section II
You must write an extended composition in a specific genre of language from a list of choices (story, talk, debate, article, essay) [100 marks]

Paper II
200 mins 200 marks
Section I The single text [60 marks]

Section II The Comparative study [70 marks]

Section III Poetry (Unseen and Studied) [20 + 50 marks]

Download the leaving cert English syllabus here
Download the prescribed texts for the 2015 exam here
Download the prescribed texts for the 2016 exam here
Download the leaving cert English Guidelines for Teachers here
Download the leaving cert English Chief examiner’s report (2008) here