1 Akishakar

Leaving Cert English Paper 1 Essays On Education

I’m just cleaning out my classroom, so I’m going to plonk this exercise here for future reference, rather than saving a piece of paper that will end up in the bottom of a box of other random pieces of paper!

Write a response to ONE of the following. You have 1hr 10mins.

1. Write an article (serious and/or humorous) for your school magazine titled “10 ways to survive secondary school”


2. Write a sensational news report or your school website describing your debs – who was there! what they wore! who got drunk! who got kissed! who got dumped!


3. Write a news article giving advice (serious and/or lighthearted) to tourists visiting Ireland for the first time.

Here are some essay titles I gave my Leaving Certs in the run up to the exams:

1. Write a descriptive essay on the wonder and innocence of childhood.

2. Write a short story in which something funny happens.

3. Write a speech discussing the idea that, in schools, appearances often mask a disturbing reality. This speech will be delivered in front of the Minister for Education.

4. Write an article for a popular magazine examining some of the unanswerable questions we spend our lives pondering.

5. Write a personal essay discussing your philosophy of life and examining how this effects your behaviour and your relationships.

Here are a few more I’ve just found

1. Write a speech for International Women’s Day. You may take a serious and/or humorous approach

2. Write a descriptive essay on the beauty and the ugliness of our world.

3. Write a short story in which a small moment has a deep significance for the main character.

4. Write a personal essay in which you explore the people, the places and the experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.

This lot below were topics for a TY public speaking competition:

  1. Irish women have yet to achieve equality
  2. Ireland does not need Europe to succeed as a nation
  3. Our greatest asset in Ireland is our education system
  4. Future generations will be furious at our indifference to protecting the environment
  5. As a nation and as individuals we must prioritise our mental health
  6. Our lack of digital literacy education in schools is a foolish and dangerous oversight
  7. In the modern world there is no such thing as a ‘generation gap’ between young and old

Yet more – all discovered over the course of two days as I clean out my classroom and dump random bits of paper scrawled with essay topics, homework exercises, class tests…

This list is from a TY public speaking class:

  1. Write out the speech you deliver at your sister / brother’s wedding or hen/stag
  2. Write the eulogy for a loved ones funeral
  3. Write a speech where you nominate someone for an award
  4. Propose some changes in the way your school is run at a student council meeting
  5. Prepare a lesson to teach first year students for a class – any subject, any topic!

Here are some debate topics I gave at some random date in the past…

Argue for or against one of the following motions:

  • Ireland should lower the voting age
  • School attendance should be voluntary
  • Parents should be punished for their childrens’ mistakes
  • TV talent shows are destroying the music industry
  • Beauty pageants do more harm than good
  • Doctor-assisted suicide should be legalised
  • Celebrities should not be role models

Every time I think I’ve come upon the last random selection of essay titles, I find more!

  1. Write a light-hearted speech about your pet hates in life
  2. Write a newspaper article in which you uncover and expose a scandal
  3. Write an entertaining descriptive essay for a competition under the title “If I ran this school”
  4. Write a debate speech in which you argue for or against the motion that “the future of publishing is digital”
  5. Write a personal essay entitled “I’m weird but that’s OK”



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!

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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