Really Useful Links for Writers: Leaving Cert Essay Writing | Resources | Academic Writing | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Paul FitzSimons script writer freelance journalist

Paul FitzSimons

I have good news – the weather will be beautiful next Wednesday. The sun will shine, the skies will be clear, the temperature will be in the twenties. How do I know that? Because it’s the first day of the Leaving Cert Exams.

Besides being the unofficial start of summer, Day 1 of the Leaving is also English Paper 1, the culmination of two years’ work for around fifty thousand English language students.

The Leaving Cert English exam is divided into two papers – Paper 1, which is all about comprehension and composition and Paper 2, which covers The Single Text , The Comparative Study and Poetry. Like the other two-part exams Maths and Irish, English 1 and 2 happen on two different days – the first Wednesday and Thursday mornings of the schedule. Maybe this is to give brains and hands a chance to recover from a hectic morning of essay-writing.

Besides having the aptitude to tell a good story, writing essays at Leaving Cert level requires certain acquired skills, most of which we learn over the years of study prior to the exam. However, there are some aspects of writing the perfect essay that we don’t necessarily pick up or, with the deluge of knowledge that we’re trying to take in, have slipped from our memories. Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources that will fill in those gaps and also offer some additional advice on writing, organisational and time-saving that will prove invaluable on the day.

On the ever useful website – seriously, I wish this had been around in my day – we are given an invaluable guide to preparing for and then sitting down to English Paper 1. Their pages include advice on approaching each essay, what needs to be covered to achieve a passing mark and what flourishes will help to get that all-important A.

After sitting his Leaving Cert in 2011, student and blogger Aidan Curran decided to take the lessons he learned during that traumatic year and share them on his website. His post How To Get An A In English Essay Writing takes us through everything we need to remember coming up to and during the exam. He reminds us that, as essay-writing is not something we can memorize, it makes it both the easiest and most difficult part of the exam.

Most of the above applies to Paper 1 of the exam. Of course, there are also some essays to be written for Paper 2, which deals with curriculum’s prescribed texts, such as the play, novels and poetry. The Clevernotes website offers us some invaluable advice on tackling the second English paper compositions, suggesting that, in order to form a cogent and coherent response to the question asked, an essay must always contain an introduction, a number of well-focused body paragraphs and a conclusion.

For some slightly more tongue-in-cheek advice on essay writing, we can watch video blogger Clisare’s video on She takes us through her unique thoughts on writing both English and Irish essays. She does offer some interesting insight but the fact that she advises us to remind the teacher that ‘Irish is a dead language’ suggests that we should probably take most of her tips with a grán salainn.

If you feel an online tutor will be able to help, check out TutorHunt.

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” – Sydney J. Harris


A Whole Website Dedicated To It. has all the advice, information and sample exams we need to tackle the Paper 1 essay.

“”Stick to the topic. Have plenty of ideas. Identify problems but also offer solutions.”


Them’s The Rules. takes us through six important rules for writing the perfect essay.

“It’s really important to grab the reader’s attention. Use a quote, or a series of rhetorical questions, a list, or a vivid description.”


From The Horse’s Mouth.

Recent Leaving Cert student Aidan Curran takes us his advice on Essay-writing, based on his own experience.

“Obviously, when you get the essay titles first you say “That’s it, I’m screwed, we’ll call it a day”. But if you just look at them, you’ll realise that they can be changed to your strengths.”


It’s Not All About Paper 1, You Know.

English Paper 2, which deals with the subject’s prescribed texts and poetry, also involves some essay writing. Clevernotes tells us how to tackle it.

“The most basic principal of essay writing is that it should be structured. Your essay must form a cogent and coherent response to the question asked.”


And Lastly, Some Proper Serious Advice (Or Maybe Not)

Vlogger Clisare gives us her unique take on Essay Writing.

“Always end English Language essays with ‘…and then I woke up.’ Teachers love that.”

(c) Paul FitzSimons

About the author

Paul FitzSimons is a screenwriter and novelist and has written the novel ‘Burning Matches’ and a number of scripts for film and TV. He has worked as a storyline writer on RTE’s ‘Fair City’. His short stories are published in ‘Who Brought The Biscuits’ by The Naas Harbour Writers. Paul likes crime thrillers, good coffee and Cadbury’s chocolate. He doesn’t like country-and-western music or people who don’t indicate on roundabouts.

Paul also runs the Script Editing service Paul | The |

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