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10 Last Minute Tips for English Paper 1 – Leaving Cert

You might think there is very little you can do to prepare for English Paper 1 at this stage, but there is no harm at all in reminding yourself o some of the basic and key points as to how to approach this paper. It is not simple, especially for those who don’t have that natural flair for English and for those who do, an over confidence could cost you that A grade so be careful!

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1. Read the entire paper from start to finish before you attempt to answer any questions. You will find out the theme of the paper and get to grips with the language in each text.

2. Pick your question B first. The reason for this is you have to come up with the answer yourself, whereas you will find your answers to question A the the text therefore it is easier to do.

3. You cannot do a Question A and Question B from the same text!! Every year students lose marks so choose wisely and don’t make this mistake.

4. Decide on your Question A and re-read that text. This time, underline the key words in each paragraph to identify any language you can. ie. metaphors, similes, alliteration, hyperbole, onomatopoeia etc. Then take a look at your questions and underline the key words in there. Keep using theses key words as much as possible while answering your question. This will show the examiner you are focused.

5. Answer all questions using a statement, quotation and comment type answer. Give as many points as possible – at least three or four for each question.

6. Identify the language question. They often ask students about the writers style of writing or sometimes they can be a little more devious and expect you to read between the lines and identify the language in the text. Don’t just write about imagery – write about all the language techniques used and don’t forget the first thing you should state is as to whether the piece of writing is descriptive, informative, persuasive, didactic, narrative, etc

7. Don’t use a pre-prepared essay – unless you are lucky enough and it is totally appropriate. Examiners will spot this a mile away and you will lose marks on the only 100 mark question in English. You are given 30 marks for purpose, 30 marks for coherence, 30 marks for language and 10 marks for mechanics, so when you think of it, 60 marks are going for just being focused and simply doing what they ask you to do.

8. Essay writing is all about style. If they want a short story make sure you have a twist in it and it is written in third person. If it is a personal essay you decide on then keep it personal and write on what you know. If you attempt the article type essay make sure it’s factual and give an appropriate introduction, depending on who you are asked to write for. Give the usual six points and make sure you don’t repeat yourself. Examiners love a bit of humour so if you can put in an anecdote or persona memory to hammer home the point, do. Try to be different – that’s what get’s you the marks.

9. Don’t do extra Questions. Usually students do this thinking it will get them extra points or the examiner will reward them for making an extra effort. They won’t! Put your effort into the questions you have to do. If you’re doing them right, you won’t have time for any extra!

10. Watch your timing – Reading the paper will take about 20 minutes, the essay should be given 90 minutes and Question A and B should be given 45 minutes each. Make sure you do the essay last as you might get idea’s from the three texts you have just read and you will be more relaxed at that stage in the exam which means you will be able to function better.

In general, you have done the work so there is nothing to be scared about going into this exam at all. Don’t Panic and just look through any questions your English Teacher corrected and really concentrate on any comments he/she made and try to improve in these area’s. Keep brainstorming and looking through past papers and if you don’t have time to do actual questions, just do out plans and think about what approach is needed for each one. Make sure you write enough and a good plan at the start of each questions will ensure you do this. Keep positive and don’t listen to others when they offer their opinion as to what you should or should not have done. When it’s over, be content and don’t give it a second thought. Your going to do brilliant, the work is done.

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