Leaving Cert French: An Overview

Most universities require you to have a third language. French is the most popular language offered on the Leaving Cert.

The exam is on the morning of the second Wednesday of the exam period and there is a written and aural (listening) portion of the exam. The written exam is worth 220 marks and the aural exam is worth 80 marks.

You have 2 and a half hours for the written exam and 40 minutes for the aural exam.

Directions and questions are written in French and you must answer questions in French, unless they are asked in English or Irish.

What’s on the exam?

The written portion has two sections, reading comprehension and composition.

In section I, reading comprehension, you are given two short passages to read and answer questions for them. You must answer all the questions in this section.

Questions are either short answer or multiple choice. The paragraphs are numbered and the questions will tell you which paragraph they correspond to.

In section II, composition, you answer 3 out of 4 questions. You must answer question 1, but you can choose 2 of the remaining 3 questions to answer. Each of the four questions has a question A or B to choose from and you only need to pick one or the other. You are given an approximate word count for what you need to write.

The first question has to do with one of the passages you read. The other questions are more conversational and have to do with possible real life situations or are about current events.

The aural portion of the exam has five sections. In each section, an audio clip is played. This audio clip may be a person talking about someone, interview, conversation, or news clip. Each clip is played 3 times. You answer the questions in either English or Irish.

Tips for success:

  • Know your grammar.
  • The best way to practise is reading in French and watching television or movies in French.
    • You can change your phone’s language to French to immerse yourself in the language.
    • Read your favourite books in French or read the news in French.
    • A lot of shows on Netflix have a French subtitle or audio option. Some DVDs might have this too. This is a good way to practise and have fun at the same time.
  • When reading in French, practise translating from French to English.
  • Have a conversation in French with a friend.

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