Study Resources

3rd Year Weekly Grinds


History is one of the subjects available on our Easter Revision Course 2023.

Students attending our Easter Revision Course receive:

  • Access to expert teachers
  • Answers to their questions
  • Exam focused notes
  • Exam strategies & examiner insights
  • Recordings of all live classes to re-watch right up to the end of the 2023 Leaving Certificate exams

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

Elizabeth Hearst, a past pupil from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in Leaving Cert higher level history, tells us how she got top marks.

Practice writing essays

It’s difficult to get an essay written in 42.5 minutes, but with practice you can learn how it’s done. We did weekly class tests, which I found really helped.

Study past papers

Familiarise yourself with the paper and the past questions that have been asked.

Make a plan

In the exam, it’s much easier if you know the structure of what you’re going to write, before you write it. Those 42.5 minutes go by incredibly quickly, so knowing your structure is key. When making my plan, I wrote out each important point that I wanted to make, in each of the essays that I prepared.

Writing essays

Aim for 3-5 quotes per essay. Examiners love this, as it shows depth rather than reeling off facts. Include interesting nuggets of information in all paragraphs. Write short paragraphs. Each paragraph is marked out of 12, so writing 2 short paragraphs and each scoring 6’s, is better than one long paragraph which could be awarded 9.

“Remember to pick the smart question in the history exam.”

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.

Susan Cashell, who has been teaching History at The Institute of Education for over 15 years, explains what the ‘smart question’ is and why choosing it will benefit you in the exam.

Reaction to 2022 History Exam

Each year, our exceptional teachers give their take on the Leaving Certificate higher level exam papers. Read what Susan Cashell, history teacher at The Institute of Education, had to say about the 2022 exam below.

Reaction to Leaving Certificate 2022 History (Higher Level) by Susan Cashell, history teacher at The Institute of Education.

This was a paper for the well prepared higher-level student.

Similarly to last year, students only had to answer the Documents Based Question (DBQ) and write two essays. Normally they have to answer the DBQ and write three essays. This meant they had one hour for each essay and 50 mins for the DBQ.

The Compulsory Document Based Question (DBQ) on Coleraine was straightforward, provided that students knew their key words autobiography and objective.

Some students might have been surprised by the contextualisation question 4 that didn’t just concentrate on Coleraine but asked for other issues that contributed to tension in Derry in the 1960’s

Because of modifiocations to the paper again this year, students only had to answer two essay question, rather then three. This would have given them time to answer the good choice of lovely survey questions in the US section, such as the strengths and weaknesses of the US economy 1945-89 and developments in race relations 1945-89.

The popular Dictatorship section had enough choice that would allow the well-prepared student to be able to answer one question in this section, especially the questions on why Italy and or Germany embraced dictatorship. Those who had studied Stalin had to be careful to note that the question included peace and war.

The Sovereignty section, which also proves popular, was more limited. There was a good question on factors that contributed to partition but it was not a question to attempt unless you have done it before.

The question on the case study of the Eucharistic Congress was on its impact and some students might find it difficult to write enough on that subject.

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 history notes they receive.

“If you’re aiming for a high grade, you need to pay attention to the DBQ.”

The Documents Based Question in the higher level history paper is worth 20% of your overall grade.

Susan Cashell, history teacher at The Institute of Education, steps through the ‘four C’s’ of the DBQ and explains how answering each part correctly can help you maximise your grade in the exam.

Top Tips

Susan Cashell, history teacher at The Institute of Education, shares her secrets to exam success.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

How can you attempt this exam if you haven’t written under pressure? You should be doing a test two times every week. If this is not possible in your class, do it at home. Even if you find this difficult at the beginning you will get better at it.

Write fast!

This is an exam that rewards those who write fast and a lot ! You do not have a hope of a high grade if you only write three pages for an essay. Aim to write five.


Running out of time? Never spend longer than 42.5 minutes on a question. If you run out of time, 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.

Toilet breaks

Never bring 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!

Research Study Report

Take the RSR seriously as it is worth 20% of your overall mark!

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