Exam Times – History

Before you even pick up a pen in the Leaving Cert History exam, there are a few things you should consider that can make all the difference between a high and low grade in June.

Susan Cashell, who has been teaching History at The Institute of Education for the past 10 years, explains how picking the ‘smart question’ will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and why choosing it will benefit you in the exam…



  • Take the RSR seriously as it is 20% of your mark
  • This is an exam that rewards those who write fast and a lot !
  • Not a hope of the high grade if you only write 3 pages for an essay, aim for the 5.
  • Running out of time? Never stay longer than 42.5 minutes per question, leave a blank page and go on to the next question, if there is time you can go back. If you are under pressure near the end of the essay make bullet points for the last two paragraphs and write out the conclusion.
  • Never bring in fizzy drinks into the exam, sip water. Remember if you leave the exam hall for a toilet break the examiner will have to stamp your script when you leave and when you return. What a waste of your valuable writing time. You could have written that conclusion.
  • Practise, Practise, Practise! How can you attempt this exam if you haven’t written under pressure, you should be doing a test to time every week. If this is not possible in your class do it at home, don’t leave everything up to your teacher. Even if you find this difficult at the beginning you will get better.



  • Plagiarising from websites especially Wikipedia in the RSR account, this could lose you your entire history grade.
  • Over writing on the Comprehension part of the DBQ and not having enough time for the contextualisation question.
  • Not noticing when the Comparison and Criticism sections of the DBQ question requires more than one example, so be careful of plurals else you could lose half your marks for the question.
  • Not using examples from the cartoon or text in front of you to back up your comments.
  • Writing too much on background in the contextualisation and not answering the set question.
  • Misreading or not understanding the essay question e.g. thinking inter-war was in the war.
  • Overwriting on one essay, as this plays havoc with your time management.
  • In the essays, not writing enough.
  • In the essays not dealing with both parts of a question or not covering the full date parameters, for e.g. if the question requires you to deal with France 1920-45 it is not enough to just deal with the third republic you must also deal with the Vichy state.




The Treaty Negotiations


The Eucharistic Congress

  • The best film on this subject is the Radharc documentary, ‘The Year of the Congress’: www.radharcfilms.com/p1/s.html
  • A documentary made by media students in UCD on the 31st International Eucharistic Congress 1932: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKR7olqpL80


Belfast during World War 2


Full Supplement Download

Published on Thursday, 27th February, this supplement focuses on Leaving Certificate History.

Download History Supplement (5.37 MB)