Lots of you wonder how much you should write for each of the sections and most teachers will say it depends on the student, on the question etc..

I’ll give you some general guidelines courtesy of my mate Benny who corrects Leaving Cert Hons English every year (those doing ordinary level will probably write less for some sections).

Paper 1

Comprehension answers:

10 marks = half page

15 marks = three quarters to one page

20 marks = one to one and a half pages

Question B = one and a half to two pages.

Depends on task. Language of information asks to you be direct, succinct and get to the point so a report, set of guidelines, leaflet might be a page or just over. However, a general guideline suggests two pages – and when you’re counting, don’t include the addresses in a letter. They don’t count as half a page!

Composition = 4 to 6 pages. Quality is more important than quantity. Don’t write so much that the reader gets bored and wishes it was over.

Paper 2

Single Text = 4 – 5 pages. Beyond 6 and you’re probably just waffling.

Comparative = 5 – 7.  Anything less is flimsy. You do have 3 texts after all.

Unseen poetry = Page and a half maximum.

Studied poetry = 4 pages.

Obviously some people write slow, some fast, some big, some small. The important thing is that the examiner sees you are focused on the question and organised in your approach. Don’t waffle.

Oh and one more thing! Bear in mind that the average number of words per line is 10-12. Now grab a copy, any copy and count your words – how many do you usually have per line?

If it’s 8 or less your writing is very big

so you may need to write a bit more.

If it's more than 15 your writing is very small and it may seem like
you haven't written enough. Start skipping a line between paragraphs!
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5 Responses to How much to write?

  1. [...] very relevant article is, “How Much To Write?“, as this one can throw nervous students.  The Junior Cert posts are also worth a pre-exam [...]

  2. sarah says:

    If the comparative question is in two parts, how many pages would you write for the first part(comparing two texts) and for the second part (one text alone)?

    • If it’s 30 marks for one text, 40 marks for the other two, I’d write about 2 and a half for 30 marks/1 text and 3 and a half for 40 marks/2 other texts. If your writing is big, make that 3 for 30 marks, 4 for 40 marks. If your writing is small (or you write really slowly) make that 2 pages for 30 marks and 3 pages for 40 marks. Hope that helps!

  3. Niamh says:

    If the Comparative question asks for at least two texts, is answering on two texts sufficient?

    • If it says “at least two texts” or “two or more texts” then you have a choice – you can answer on two, or you can answer on three. Generally speaking, at ordinary level they ask for two and at higher level they ask for three, but not always.

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