Essay Writing Tipsleaving Cert English

1. Students using hidden wireless devices to cheat in Chinese exams

You think you have it bad during the Leaving Cert?

Try going to China where this week some nine million people in China are currently sitting the national college entrance exams known as the “gaokao”.

The annual exam is a fiercely competitive test that determines the path of a student’s life. Unlike Ireland, there are very few alternative entry routes to third-level.

Some students at a school in the Hebei province report using IV drips in the hope it will boost performance, while girls are encouraged to take the contraceptive pill to delay their periods until after the exam.

Others go further still: Chinese police have found students are resorting to high-tech devices straight out of a James Bond film in an attempt to cheat.

Police this week have shown off wireless devices disguised to look like belts, pens, watches and earpieces.

The International Business Times reports that this year exam sites are equipped with surveillance facilities including vans that detect wireless activity.

Streets around exam halls are also being guarded by the police, and people who make noise on testing days can be fined.

2. Tweet of the day

@jdarganward: Thunder and lightning during #LeavingCert English paper 2. Pathetic fallacy to beat the band

- English teacher James Dargan Ward sees the poetic side of our mixed weather

3. Number of the day

330 The number of girls who sat Thursday’s Leaving Cert engineering paper, compared to 5,089 boys

4. Career choice options

Most Leaving Cert students will soon be over the hump of the exams and casting another eye back over the CAO choices.

If you do find your mind drifting from exams – or just want an excuse not to study but still feel that you’re working – there are some useful websites out there.

We’re all familiar with, but it’s not the only one. is a really well-organised website that lays out all your PLC and further education options, while is a new online support platform that aims to make course searching simpler for CAO applicants.

Unibrowse supports students through the process by making searching easy for them and helping them to quickly evaluate all their courses. So far, the website has helped over 12,000 students and that number is growing.

If you’re still not sure, it’s worth checking some or all of them out before the change of mind deadline at the end of this month.

5. Up Today

Junior Cert

Geography (9.30-11.30)

Environmental and social studies (9.30-11.30)

Maths paper 1 (2-4.00/4.30pm)

Leaving Cert

Geography (9.30-12.20pm)

Maths paper 1 (2-4.30pm)

6. Last-minute tips Leaving Cert maths paper 2 (Monday)

“Probability, statistics, geometry and trigonometry are the main areas on this paper. Make sure to know your log tables and where to look for statistics formulas. Indeed, take a moment to look at the different formulas and the page they are on. Bring in two calculators to the exam in case one breaks. Read the questions carefully as paper two does require a jump from the words of the question to the maths you have to write: think ahead of how your answer should look like at the end." - Luke Saunders, founder of Studyclix and teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Enniscrone, Sligo. Irish paper one (Monday):

“Often seen as the easier of the two papers, this can lull students into complacency. Get your ears ready for the cluaistiscint and have a listen to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta or the Studyclix aural revision tool.

“When it comes the essay, bring in phrases and vocabulary that you know. And use the time: if you’re finished early go over it and check for small grammar or spelling mistakes that can prove costly, so check over those fadas and séimhiús again. - Éamonn Sweeney, content and communities editor at

Leaving Cert Irish

Right, here we go with my first actual subject based post. I’ve decided to begin with Irish as its a subject the majority of 6th years complete.

There are many aspects to the subject: 
Oral/Bealtriail                                   40%
Tape/ Cluastuiscint                          10%
Essay/ Aiste                                     16.67%
Comprehensions/ Leamhthusicints  16.67%
Prose/Pros                                       5%
Poetry/Filiocht                                  5%
Studied text                                      6.67%

Today I will be talking about my approach towards the ‘aiste’.

Right so in my folder I have 16 essays but for my actual exam I had 4-5 learned off by heart. My teacher’s technique in preparing us for this portion of the exam was excellent. Throughout 5th and 6th year we were given roughly an essay every 2 weeks or so. She would go through the essays in class and translate any new terms and she would also point out any phrases which were impressive and of the 'ardchaighdeán’. Then she let us pick and choose the paragraphs we wished to learn as long as the essay was a minimum of 3 pages

Here was my technique:
I would read through the essay again and highlight the paragraphs which dealt with clear, straightforward ideas. For example in my essay on 'Sport’ I had 9 paragraphs: Introduction, peoples interest in sport, sport in schools, the skills and escapism involved in sport, positivity and health, lessons one learned, link with money, link with drugs and finally my conclusion. By dividing the essay into paragraphs it made it much easier to remember come exam time. I would then learn the essay paragraph by paragraph. Each time I learned a paragraph I would try to rewrite the whole essay again. So say I just finished learning the 3rd paragraph, I would try to write it out from memory and if I succeeded I would try to write out the 1st, 2nd and 3rd paragraph from memory all at once. 

How I learned each paragraph:
I highlighted any words or phrases I didn’t know and learned them by using flash cards. Once they were known learning the paragraph was much easier. 

I then wrote the translation of the paragraph in English on a page and tried writing it out in Irish from looking only at the English version. When translating it from Irish try to directly translate it. For example if the Irish is 'Bhí dhá fón pocaí acu’ I would translate it as 'There was 2 phones had by them’ instead of 'They had 2 phones’ as when I’d write it in Irish I’d know the 'had’ came at the end of the sentence. Little things like that helped. 

By using these techniques I got an A1 in all of my tests bar the 'Future of Irish’ one. I got an A2 in that as my essay only hit 2 and a half pages instead of 3. The addiction of another paragraph would have improved my grade. 

I would repeat this process until I knew the paragraph without reading the English. Repetition is essential when learning Irish. If you’re fluent of course you won’t need to use these tips but for those of you, like myself, who are not from an Irish speaking area, these tips can be really helpful. 

Also, by learning the essay off by heart for class tests you’re constantly learning the structure of the language and it will greatly improve your grades in all other sections of the course. You won’t be overwhelmed come exam time then and all you’ll need to do is read over each essay 2 or 3 times! Happy days. 

Right so these are the essays which I have in my folder. If any of you want me to upload one just say the word!
1. Violence/Crime
2. Students’ lives
3.  Education System
4. Sport
5. Alcohol
6. Drugs
7. Health
8. The Recession/economy
9. Poverty
10. The Environment
11. Future of Irish
12. Religion
13. The 2013 Gathering
14. Technology
15. Nelson Mandela (topical this year)
16. The General Essay
17. Debate format

I think that’s about everything I did to learn the essays. They really are handy marks as you’re more or less guaranteed that one of them will come up and even if they don’t you should be able to pick and choose from the paragraphs you’ve learned from each essay. If any of you have any more questions just feel free to drop them in the ask box! 


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