Leaving Certificate French

Leaving Certificate French

Leaving Certificate French

The Higher Level Leaving Certificate French exam is made up of an oral examination (25%), a listening comprehension (20%), reading comprehension (30%) and written production (25%).

The oral examination lasts for approximately 12 minutes. It can be the most daunting section of the Leaving Certificate French exam,  but being well prepared with vocabulary and verbs will go a long way to laying the groundwork.  Treat it as a conversation rather than an interrogation and try to get as much practise as possible in advance of the French Oral exam.

The listening comprehension is divided into 5 parts.  Read the questions first, as they will give you a good indication of the subject. Pay particular attention to exactly what is being asked, as incorrect answers are often evidence that the question has been misread.  The questions are all answered in English, but French may be used as a last resort, as half marks may be available.  Try to write down an answer for each question, but avoid writing excessive information which may be partially incorrect and cause you to lose marks.

The reading comprehension has two texts - one literary text and one that is more journalistic in style. You should spend about 35 minutes on each text, so as to leave yourself enough time to complete the written section of the paper. With the exception of the last question on each comprehension passage, questions are both asked and answered in French.  To prepare for this you should read as much French as you can: newspapers, magazines, websites etc.

The written section comprises four parts, each of which contains a choice between two questions. Candidates must answer Q1 and two other questions from Q2, Q3 and Q4.

In Q1 candidates usually have to choose between writing about topics which vaguely relates to the themes of the reading comprehensions and giving an account of a personal event or experience.

In Q2 candidates will be given a choice between two of the following three question types: a diary entry, a message or email, a letter (formal or informal).

In Q3 candidates will be expected to express their opinions and feelings in reaction to a short prose stimulus, headline or picture.

In Q4 candidates will have to be prepared to give a personal response to a variety of stimuli such as cartoons, pictures, short prose articles or graphics.

Close attention to detail is essential for success in the written section. Candidates must adhere to the question asked and will be penalised for irrelevance. A good knowledge of verbs, tenses and grammatical structures is required for accuracy of language. 


Euro Languages College - Leaving Certificate French Summer Course

Euro Languages College runs residential French courses during the summer months in which students can live in an environment similar to the Gaeltacht for 3 weeks and gain valuable language skills before the sitting the Leaving Cert French exam.  Go to Book a Course to see the senior French courses on offer.

It is recommended that students: 

  • Be very aware of the significance of words such as: Citez, Relevez, Trouvez, Phrase, Expression, Mot, Élément, as used in Reading Comprehension questions.

  • Practise manipulation skills, being careful to make the necessary adjustments to verbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc., especially when changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech or First Person narrative into Third Person narrative.

  • Remember that answers in comprehension passages must make complete sense, so care should be taken to begin and end a quotation in the correct place.

  • Remember, in Q.6 of the Reading Comprehension, that points should be very precise, that quotations and references must support them, and that the two spaces provided should be used to make two separate points.

  • Consider reading Q.6 first, as it often gives a sense of the direction or focus of the passage.

  • Avoid putting in a learnt-off paragraph unless it is relevant, as it will gain no marks, no matter how excellent it is.

  • Read the stimulus in the question very carefully, and be sure that they know what they are being asked to do.

  • Avoid focusing on only one word in the stimulus, e.g. la mode, as it may not necessarily be appropriate to the answer required.

  • Always double-check agreements, verb endings, pronouns and prepositions before leaving a piece of writing.

  •  Realise that simple ideas, directly and effectively expressed in correct, idiomatic French, generally work better than clichés, proverbs, and ‘showy’ pre-prepared phrases used inappropriately for their own sake.

  • Structure ideas and use paragraphs to guide the reader through the Introduction, Development and Conclusion.

  •  Avoid writing at much greater length than required by the instructions, as the more they write, the greater the tendency to make mistakes.

  • Remember that three written tasks are required and that rather than answering a fourth question, which is unlikely to get a higher mark, the time might be more usefully spent revising and perfecting the required three.
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