Study Resources

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

Andrea Viani-Duggan & Cian Murphy, past students from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in Leaving Cert higher level Irish, describe how they got top marks.

Stay on point!

Waffling does not give the right message. When I was studying I created a summary page for each poem and prose extract. I wrote each question title in a box and then wrote the points for the answer in one word summaries underneath. If the question was 14 marks, 7 or 8 points would suffice. If it was a 10 mark question, then 5 points were enough.

The oral exam

The key to this exam is to vary tenses, use good vocabulary, and maintain a conversational tone to your answers. The examiner will appreciate that you have learnt passages about where you live and what your pastimes are, but the delivery is as important as the content.

Prepare interesting facts about yourself, so that they remember you for the right reasons!

I used to pretend I was speaking about a subject in English. I then translated the English script into Irish as best as I could. You are more likely to remember the script in Irish, if you naturally recall the information in English. This idea can also be applied to the picture sequences – practice translating what you observe in English, and then translate into Irish!

The Oral Exam

The aim of the game in the oral exam is to keep talking! Even if you make a few errors over the course of the conversation, they won’t bear massively on your grade. If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself. Make sure you know the 20 Sraith Pictiúr inside-out. Not only do they get you off to a good start, but they also provide you with vocabulary on topics which can be helpful for Paper 1 of the written exam.

The Aural Exam

The aural exam takes place first so it gives you a real opportunity to settle down. To prepare, tune in to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every couple of days. Listening to Irish speakers at a natural and fluent speed is very helpful, especially as each track in the aural is played only twice.

Paper 1

Remember to always maintain a definite, continuous connection with the title. Grammar wise, know where to use the séimhiú and úrú and make sure to give plenty of examples of the Tuiseal Ginideach and Briathar Saor.

Paper 2

I found it useful to do this paper backwards, i.e. start with the literature questions and finish with the comprehensions. In that way, my time wasn’t consumed by looking for answers in the reading comprehensions. The most important thing with the literature questions is to cover all the prescribed prose and poetry and not hedge your bets on what came up last year!

Reaction to 2023 Irish Exam Paper 1

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

See what Clare Grealy, Irish teacher at The Institute of Education, had to say about the 2023 Higher Level Paper 1 in this short video.

To view reactions to previous year’s Irish exam papers please browse videos below or 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 Irish notes they receive.

“Exam technique is everything!”

Dedicated and experienced, many of our teachers work as chief examiners for the State Examinations Commission and have a deep understanding of the Irish examination system and processes.

In this short 2019 video, Irish teacher Clare Grealy, shares some practical advice on how to approach the papers and maximise your study in the lead up to the Leaving Certificate higher level exam.

Top Tips

Clare Grealy, Irish teacher at The Institute of Education, shares some useful resources for building Irish language skills and her secrets to exam success.

There are lots of ways to improve your Irish language skills outside the classroom. Some of the most useful resources are listed below.

Television | TG4
Watching this station is a wonderful way to expand your Irish vocabulary and develop a familiarity with the language in an enjoyable and entertaining way.

Online | Maynooth University Vifax website
This is another excellent resource for Leaving Cert students, which uses material from TG4 news reports. The website focuses on the aural, but is also extremely useful for comprehension and the oral exam, with self-correcting exercises on grammar, comprehension and vocabulary.

Online | Tuairisc Newspaper
Tuairisc is an online Irish language newspaper newspaper, which features dedicated sections and interactive exercises on all sections of the Leaving Certificate exam.

Paper 1

  • Never attempt a title that you are unsure of. There has to be a definite continuous connection between the title you choose and the subject you write upon.
  • Prepare the opening of a debate or speech if you intend to choose either.
  • Prepare a plan in advance to ensure you have enough material to cover close to 3 pages.
  • Always re-read your essay before submitting your answer book to check for grammatical errors. 80% of the mark goes for language.

Paper 2

  • Make sure you thoroughly understand the poems. If you do, you will have virtually all the answers to the questions asked.
  • You must answer the question asked. While you may not like the story or poem asked, if you answer the question printed on the paper you will do well.
  • In the Léamhthuiscint sections, only Question 6B has to be in your own words. All other questions can be taken directly from the script. Don’t forget to change answers into the third person singular if the piece is written in the first person singular.
  • This is a long paper, so be strict in relation to timing.
“If you go off the point you could possibly lose everything!”

For years, our experienced teachers have helped students to hone their exam technique and develop a deep subject knowledge.

In this short video from 2017, Irish teacher Clare Grealy steps through Paper 1 and Paper 2 of the higher level Irish exam and explains what students need to remember when they are revising to ensure they get the best possible grade.

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