Submitted by FrenchNotes.ie’s director Elizabeth Hayes:
Elizabeth Hayes holds a first class honours degree in French Literature from the University of Limerick. She was the recipient of the College Medal for achieving first place overall in the University.
She has also lived in France for 10 years.
She is a registered member of the teaching council in Ireland, and works in The CBS Sexton Street, Limerick.
FRENCH LEAVING CERTIFICATE EXAM – HONOURS / HIGHER LEVEL
TOTAL 400 MARKS
The Production Écrite 100 marks (25%)
This is the part of the exam that fills most candidates with absolute dread! You are given 4 questions of which Q1 is compulsory. You have to answer a total of 3 questions, so you have a choice between questions 2, 3 and 4. Within each Question, there is a choice between (a) and (B).
Choose a further 2 questions from Q2, Q3 or Q4. Each of these will feature options (a) or (b).
Question 1. 40 marks. (90 words approximately) Q1 is obligatory.
Choose between options (a) & (b)
The (A) option of the question is generally topical and will often make reference to the reading texts. Option (B) often asks students to tell a real or imaginary story.
Question 2. 30 marks (75 words approximately) This question is generally a choice between a diary entry, an email, a message or a letter, either formal or informal. The diary entry is a very popular choice, but you will not get away with filling the 75 words with stock phrases and idiomatic language. You must use grammatically correct French, and be able to personalise the question to gain maximum marks.
Question 3 or 4. 30 marks (75 words approximately).
These are usually questions, which require the students to give their reaction to a given topic or their opinion about a certain issue.
TOP TIPS FOR WRITING EFFECTIVE, BUT SIMPLE FRENCH.
- Choose simple grammatically perfect sentences, rather than overly complex structures.
- Deal with the stimulus provided.
- Answer the question being asked and don’t go off the point.
- Use the subjunctive if you are able to. Do not throw in complex sentences unless they actually fit into the overall opinion question.
- Respect the Rule of Agreement at all times. Remember that when the verb être is used in a sentence, everything in the sentence must agree.
- Do not use slang or familiar French when writing about a serious topic.
- You know that you have to write 3 pieces for the Leaving Cert. If you decide against the Diary Entry, you may have to write on three serious or topical issues. Bearing this in mind, learn off 3 strong opening statements and 3 closing statements. It is very off-putting to an examiner, when a candidate starts all writing tasks with the exact same opening statement, and ends each on the same closing statement.
We will look at the 2013 paper as an example of what to do on the morning of the exam:
- La semaine dernière, vous avez fait de l’auto-stop pour la première fois et vous avez eu une très bonne expérience. Racontez ce qui s’est passé. (Votre récit peut être réel ou imaginaire).
- Pour réussir dans le monde de travail aujourd’hui, est-il nécessaire d’aller à l’université et d’obtenir une licence ?
- Diary Entry – Organising a party when your parents are away.
- Message – Concerning an elderly neighbour who has had an accident.
- Un des plus grands bonheurs de la vie, c’est l’amitié. Qu’en pensez-vous?
- Qu’est-ce que vous pensez du Gathering.
- Aujourd’hui les célébrités représentent des idoles pour les jeunes, et leur influence est considérable. Certaines célébrités peuvent inspirer aux jeunes des ambitions, mais d’autres célébrités peuvent avoir une mauvaise influence sur eux. Donnez votre réaction.
- Le scandale de la viande de cheval ! Donnez votre réaction.
As you can see from below, I have chosen to do Q1 (b), Q3 (a) and Q4 (b). I have decided not to do any of the options on Q2.
I then go to my rough-work sheet and draw two columns.
In the first column, I write down the questions that I wish to do. (I have written them out in full, but you might just write down the main theme of the question).
In the second column, I write 3 main headlines;
- SAMPLE OPENING STATEMENT,
- SAMPLE PHRASES & VOCABULARY
- SAMPLE CONCLUDING STATEMENT
Do not attempt to finish the written section at this point. Keep space within the columns to add more during the exam, as words and phrases will come to you.