Study Resources

What does it take to get a H1 in Higher Level French?

Edwina Hilton, past student from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in Leaving Cert higher level French, explains how she got top marks in the exam.

Immerse yourself in the language!

This is the most important advice I could possibly give any student. French is a living language and to do well you need more than class notes.

It’s important to have a confident command of the language so you can think on your feet if surprised by a question on the day, in either the oral, aural or written exam. It will also give your work an individual and original dynamic that is vital in order to achieve the top grade.

Watch movies

Simply watching French movies as a form of relaxation during study breaks can dramatically improve your linguistic skills and fluency. Even if you find it difficult to understand, it is far from a waste of time!

Read books

In terms of reading, I started out with simple children’s books moving to well-known translations I had already read in the English language.

Chat with friends

I also had the opportunity to converse weekly on a one to one basis. Constant oral practice is really key to securing the A grade in the oral and doing this with a friend is a really great habit to get into!

Reaction to 2023 French Exam

Each year, our exceptional teachers give their take on the Leaving Certificate higher level exam papers.

See what Corinne Gavenda, French teacher at The Institute of Education, had to say about the 2023 written exam in this short video.

To view reactions to previous year’s exam papers please visit our YouTube channel.

Sample Notes

Students who attend The Institute of Education are provided with exclusive, exam-focussed study notes to support their home study and revision. Below are a sample of the high-quality French notes they receive.

“In Productive Writing never lose sight of the question”

Dedicated and experienced, our teachers have an in-depth understanding of the Leaving Certificate exam papers.

In this short video, Corrine Gavenda, who has been teaching French at The Institute of Education for over 30 years, offers students some key advice for approaching the Productive Writing section of the exam paper.

Need help with Reading Comprehension or building negative sentences?

French teacher Corinne Gavenda steps through some useful pointers in the online tutorials below.

Top Tips

Corinne Gavenda, French teacher at The Institute of Education, shares her secrets to exam success.

Read the questions

Read each question twice and highlight the key words. Answer in the spaces provided. If given line A and line B, make sure to use both. All questions written in English must be answered in English, all questions written in French must be answered in French.

Make a plan

Make a simple plan, consisting of an introduction, a development and a conclusion before you start writing. Avoid writing in pencil and using tippex. Remember also that re-writing of answers is time-wasting.

Be natural

As with the oral, examiners are looking for relevance, spontaneity and natural flow in your writing. Keep in mind that it is better to write simply than to use indiscriminately everything you have learned.

Check your answers

Reading over what you have written is essential. Re-read in three stages:

  • Check the verbs, their tense and whether you have put in the correct agreement.
  • Check the nouns and adjectives, their forms, and whether they are singular or plural, feminine or masculine.
  • Check the general coherence.

Presentation is important

Remember that the presentation of your work is important. Avoid using brackets. Double check your punctuation. If you need to correct your work, do so in a neat and presentable way.

The Aural exam

Familiarise yourself with the questions first in the aural test and avoid writing during the first listening. The second listening provides the necessary breaks for accurate answers and the third will allow you to re-check. Always re-read your answer and ask yourself: Am I clear? Does this make sense?

‘In the Reaction Question the examiner is looking for clarity and focus.’

The Reaction Question is graded according to communication and language, and it’s crucial that you focus completely on the question asked and structure your answer properly.

In this short video Corinne Gavenda, French teacher at The Institute of Education, explains how this section of the paper is marked and what you can do to maximize your grade in the exam.

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