Leaving Cert Irish: An Overview

Irish is one of three mandatory Leaving Cert subjects. The exam is always on the first Monday (Paper 1, including aural) and Tuesday (Paper 2) on the timetable.

As with any exam, it can be stressful, but hopefully this exam layout overview and list of tips will help you keep it in perspective and do your best.

What’s on the exam?

Paper 1:

Paper 1 has two sections and is worth 160 marks total.

Section I is the aural (listening comprehension) portion of the exam and it is worth 60 marks. There are three parts: A, B, and C and you must answer each of the questions. You will hear each advert, conversation, or news clip twice.

Part A consists of listening to two adverts. Part B consists of two conversations. Part C consists of two news clips.

Section II is the essay portion of the exam and it is worth 100 marks. You are given a selection of prompts and you pick one to answer. There are three headings and multiple topics to pick from: 5 under news/discussion, 2 under story, and 2 under discussion/debate.

Your essay should be about 500-600 words

Paper 2:

Paper 2 has four sections and is worth 200 marks total.

Section 1 is reading comprehension and it is worth 100 marks. There are two parts, A & B, with a passage and questions. Each part is worth 50 marks. You must answer every question.

Section 2 is prose and it is worth 30 marks. You have a choice between taught or optional prose. You pick one question: 2A or 2B.

Section 3 is poetry and it is worth 30 marks. You have a choice between taught or optional poetry. You pick one question: 3A or 3B. You must answer all sections of the question.

Section 4 is additional literature and it is worth 40 marks. There are several short stories/novels on the curriculum and one shows up on the exam. There are 5 questions about different short stories or novels. You answer the one you studied in class. The sixth question is about an unseen poem.

Tips for success

  • Watch Irish news, sports programmes, and shows translated to Irish. Practise your listening skills.
  • A lot of questions will be about current events, so keep up to date with that.
  • Read books in Irish.
  • Find someone you can practise speaking Irish with: a classmate who has good Irish, someone you know from the¬†Gaeltacht, or a tutor.
  • As always, make sure to plan out your essay, pick the topic you feel most confident about,
  • Know your grammar, as marks will be taken off if you make mistakes. Grammar and mechanics is worth 80% of the essay.


Best of luck with your exams!

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