For memorizing studied poetry or stories / essays or letters, make sure you know every sentence in English also. This helps you to remember easily and once you know the English, you don't need to look at your copy and therefore, it's like testing yourself all the time non-stop. This is very useful for Leaving Cert Irish students as well.
Don't learn off whole stories but learn off different phrases! This way, you can write interesting stories and not the same crap over and over again and you're being creative about it instead of wasting your time!
Study a poem that is the easiest for you to learn. Make sure you understand your sample answer fully in English and the subject of the poem too. Most students use the very short poem 'Subh Milis' by Séamus O'Neill but despite its size, it gets you full marks and is the easiest to learn!
To become better at Irish grammar, make your own Irish grammar book with a load of exercises. Get a few books including revision books and grammar books of Irish and then copy all the exercises on a certain topic into your grammar book and then boom, you have loads of practice in one book! The more practice, the better! Like because of this, I know all my tenses very well as well as a few other grammar points - doesn't have to be just about tenses!
Make a list of everyday phrases like conversation for example:
Dia duit! (God to you / hello)
Dia is Muire duit! (God and Mary to you / hello to you too)
Conas atá tú? (How are you?)
Tá mé go maith. (I am good)
Tá mé ceart go leor. (I am okay)
Then practice all the phrases and speak them with your family or friends. Your friends should also like to do the conversation in Irish because they are learning it too and is a benefit to them also, not just you. Remember:
Beatha teanga í a labhairt! - A language lives if it's spoken!
Make a weekly plan of learning each section individually. Do not learn multiple things at once and do not leave a day without learning something. Here is a sample weekly plan for learning Irish.
Monday - learn 5 new words + practice the tenses
Tuesday - learn 5 new words + practice your studied poetry
Wednesday - learn 5 new words + practice the prepositions and idiomatic verbs (verbs that require idiomatic phrases such as "Tá ____ agam" - I have OR "Is maith liom" - I like etc)
Thursday - learn 5 new words + practice your studied prose
Friday - learn 5 new words + practice a letter (one letter each week and learn it off! and then when you run out of letters, practice exam questions and then write that letter and learn it off)
Saturday - learn 5 new words + practice your essay / story / debate (learn it off and make sure you understand each sentence in English)
Sunday - learn 5 new words + practice the genitive case / verbal nouns
If you would like to practice your vocabulary and a few SMALL phrases then why not be a little creative and create an Irish poem like I did? Here is my Irish poem as reference to show what I mean:
Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil grá agat dom
Féach ar sé i do shúile
Tá grá agam don bhealach go dtagann tú póg dom
Ná habair aon bréaga
Abair beimid le chéile
Tríd na laethanta stoirmiúil
Le chéile go deo
Feicfidh mé stanadh ar isteach do aghaidh
Gach ceann de na bronntanais a faighim
A bhfuil aon rud i gcomparáid duit
Ach a thaispeáint ní dhéanfaidh mé dearmad
Na hamanna a fuair mé a chaitheamh leat
It may not totally be accurate but hey I tried.
Practice writing out your studied poetry or studied prose or certain letters or stories etc and don't keep on just reading it! Remember, you will learn easier once ya know the English translation and you write the thing down. As you write down more frequently, you will soon never forget it again!
Even though I would like students to write interesting stories, the syllabus doesn't mark it on plots. The syllabus marks your stories on accurate grammar (90% of marks on grammar and 10% of marks on plot). So make sure you know all your gramadach!
Make sure to divide your time evenly in your exam. Here's a good timetable to follow for HL Irish:
Cluastuiscint - 25 nóiméad
Léamhthuiscint - 30 nóiméad
Trialacha Teanga Comhthéacsula - 15 nóiméad
Ceapadóireacht - 40 nóiméad
Therefore, you have 10 mins to look over your work. If you get stuck on a question in the reading comprehensions, go back to them in this spare time of 10 mins (or more if you complete the other sections early)
Prós - 30 nóiméad
Filíocht - 30 nóiméad
Litir - 20 nóiméad
Therefore, you have 10 mins to look over your work. Remember that if you don't finish in on time, you will not be allowed to continue. Make sure to stick to a good timetable like this!
For part B of Q3 on Paper 1 of your exam, make sure you know prepositions (inc. prepositional pronouns (e.g. Le (Liom, leat etc) and Ag (Agam, agat etc) etc), the genitive case and numbers. Revision books such as Revisewise Irish give good easy to follow and learn exercises on each of these grammar topics.
When writing sentences in Irish for essays, stories, letters etc, do not use overly complicated ones that you would in English. Irish is much different. The Irish composition question is marked as following
2 marks - Style of story
8 marks - Subject of story
40 marks - Accurate grammar
Therefore, your grammar is very important and see why you mustn't write complicated sentences? Only write in sentences of Irish that you know! For example, I wanted to write a phrase in my story saying "Tension was at its highest" but I did not know how to say that, so I simply said "Tension was above the average" (Bhí teannas os cionn an mheáin).
When answering the letter question, write in the tense you're given of the verb in the question. For example if it said "Cheannaigh tú albam ceoil" - You write in the Aimsir Chaite, the past tense because "Cheannaigh" is in the past tense.
For unseen poetry, you have to answer at least ONE question from part B of the questions. I'd always advise you to do the last on it which always asks "Cé acu dán is fearr a thaitin leat _________________ (names of the poems)? Luaigh dhá chúis ar thaitin an dán leat.". You can nearly always answer this question with the same answer. You just need to know the following vocabulary,
Íomhánna - Images
Pearsantú - Personification
Codarsnacht - Contrast
Cosúlacht - Comparison / Similarity
Meafar - Metaphor
Samhail - Simile
Uaim - Alliteration
Onamataipé - Onomatopoeia
Say something simple such as:
Thaitin na híománna difriúla sa dán liom. Mar shampla, ____________ (and an example from the poem). Then say the same sentence except a different technique and then give another example from the poem. Then there's that question easy and done!!!
Unless of course you feel very confident and you're fluent into Irish, do not ever choose the formal letter choice on the paper. This is because you would have learnt a lot more vocabulary for it than the informal letter plus an extra address (formal letters have two addresses). An informal letter is much easier and less stressful to do so I'd always do one of them if I were you instead of formal!
When choosing a letter on your paper, make sure you know what to write. If there is a letter that is close to (or exactly the same) one you did in class then do that one instead of one you like to write such as a football match and you did not do that one in class? Pick the closest one to examples you did in class, never choose one you liked to write about unless you're fluent into Irish. Remember that by not following this tip, there's a good few marks already gone into your letter because you don't know the vocabulary for it!
For any Irish vocabulary you have NEVER seen before that is in an unseen poem on your paper, there is a 90% chance it is translated below it in a "gluais" into simpler Irish which you should know. As long as you get even a little bit of the poem's subject then you can very easily guess what the tricky sentences mean (with the help of the gluais) and easily answer the questions.
For choosing which of the compositions you do on your exam paper, I'd always go for the Scéal. This is because that it requires less preparation and is shorter than the rest of the choices. For a scéal, as long as you know a wide range of vocabulary and a couple of phrases and verbs, you are already prepared for it. In contrast, for the Aiste and the Díospóireacht, you have to know a huge range of phrases which can be tricky and stressful to learn. It is for these reasons why I'd advise you to pick the Scéal choice and also the second choice on the paper of the scéal because the first choice consists of a line you have to begin your story with. However, the second choice gives you a setting and that's it, it doesn't tell you a phrase or anything that you have to put in it whether you want to or not.
Out of all the irregular verbs in Irish, you must know "Bí" (To be) in particular inside out as it is the most important verb to use and it is impossible to not use it. Be aware of all it's different forms
Aimsir Chaite: Bhí, Bhíomar, Raibh
Aimsir Láithreach: Tá, Bíonn, Táim, Bím, Táimid, Bímid, Bhfuil, Níl
Aimsir Fháistineach: Beidh, mBeidh
Modh Coinníollach: Bheinn, Bheifeá, Bheadh, Bheimis, Bheidís
You don't have to learn a long complicated sample answer for studied poetry. If you learn even a sample answer that's just half a page, then you can get full marks because your quotes (2-3 are necessary) and the spaces between them make it look like a full page as well as your big writing. See mine here for example of how I write mine on my paper and I got 15/15 marks. This is the exact thing I wrote on my mock paper by the way.
(i) Rinne mé staidéar an dán 'An Gleann inár Tógadh Mé' le Dubhghlas de hÍde i rith mo chúrsa. Is é ábhar an dán ná grá.
(ii) Tá grá le feiceáil go soiléir sa dán seo. Léireoidh mé an téama seo le shamplaí ón dán. Tá grá aige don dúlra. Bhí an-craic aige sa ghleann nuair a bhí sé óg.
"Shiúil sé ó áit go háit"
Thaitin an t-uisce fuar úr go mór leis.
"San uisce fíor ba mhór mo dhúil"
Luaigh sé an giorria agus an fia agus an sruthán sléibhe. Ní raibh eagla air roimh aon rud sa ghleann. Tá grá aige don ghleann. Léiríonn sé a ghrá don ghleann go soiléir tríd an dán seo. Cheap sé go raibh an dath ar gach rud ina áit dhúchais sa ghleann.
"Sa ghleann inár tógadh mé"
Cheap sé go raibh sé ábalta aon rud a dhéanamh sa ghleann.
When answering reading comprehensions, the key to questions is the first few words or first two words - i.e. question words. You should underline the question words as this will make you concentrate on what to look out for in the comprehension. If you do not understand these question words then you are very likely to fail léamhthuiscint.
Make sure to be on time for an exam. For the CD, you will not be allowed enter the exam hall until it's over and then you would have lost 40 marks already. If you come in late after the CD or for paper 2, you are not given any more time - you MUST go by the timetable you're given by the State Examinations Commission which every school has to follow.
If you are not able to create various stories (so not the same all the time) for your composition, then stick to one subject - type of story for your exam. Plenty of students choose Timpiste (An accident) as you can fit into nearly every title that comes up on Irish papers. I did Robáil Banc for my mock because I found that easier - but for you, I'd advise you to do Timpiste. If you are able to create various stories then do so, do not let the way Irish is taught get between your creativity and your learning of the language!
Like studied poetry, you needn't learn a long complicated answer for the studied prose. You can learn something like I did here:
(i) Rinne mé staidéar an ghearrscéal 'An tÁdh' le Pádraig Ó Conaire i rith mo chúrsa. Is é ábhar an ghearrscéil ná grá.(Make sure you do not make the same mistake that I did by putting down a wrong theme)
(ii) Is léir go bhfuil réimse leathan de mhothúcháin sa scéal. Tá grá (again don't mind "grá" here) le feiceáil go soiléir sa scéal seo. Taispánfaidh mé an téama seo le neart samplaí ón scéal.
Bhí triúr buachaillí ar an trá lá amháin. Bhí siad i bhfolach ar an mbád. Ní raibh fonn oibre orthu. Bhí áthas orthu nuair a smaoinigh Pádraig ar chleas. Bhí margadh muc ar siúl an lá sin. Bhí na muca i málaí ar an mbád. Theastaigh ó na buachaillí dull ann. Chuir siad ar chrannaibh é. Tharraing Pádraig an tráthnín fada. Bhí brón agus díomá air mar an duine go tharraing an tráthnín fada a bhí ar an duine fanacht. Chuaigh Séamus agus Miclín ar an mbád. Thit Pádraig ina chodladh. Nuair a dhúisigh sé, bhí sé fliuch báite. Chuala sé go ndeachaigh an bhád go tóin na farraige. Bhádh na buachaillí. Chuaigh sé abhaile agus d'inis sé an scéal dá thuismitheoirí.
Is léir go bhfuil grá (don't mind "grá" here again) agus cairdeas le feiceáil anseo. Léirigh mé na téamaí seo le neart samplaí ón scéal.
If you are asked for two specific point make sure you lay out your answer to clearly show two points rather than one big answer with your two points contained within. This will help ensure the marker is mistaken when correcting your answer.
This tip is not just for Irish, it's also for ALL subjects. Do not learn everything one night in the subject or leave it all to the night before the exam (that night you just revise what you're not sure of). Take it step by step and create a timetable for yourself. One night you can do Irish and maybe study your studied poetry? Then maybe a night sooner in the week, you study the tenses? It don't matter which you choose as long as it's not a big pile in one night - cause that increases stress!
If you don't want a sad face and a weep, the best cure is to get a good sleep! - A little phrase by me haha. This goes for ALL subjects! If you want to get the best of your ability on the subject on the day of the exam (after studying of course), then a good sleep is all you need! If you stay up all night studying, panicking and stressing then you're likely to fail - so get a good sleep!
When do your exam, it don't matter which section you do first, apart from the listening! Like after the listening, you don't have to go straight to the next section which is léamhthuiscint, you can do your aiste or scéal next if you want to and get that section done and over with, since it requires the most thinking! Same in paper 2 where you can do your studied prose / short story or studied poetry first before the comprehensions. You are NOT forced to do it in order with the exception of the listening which you start with straight away!
Make sure that you know a wide variety of themes for your studied poem or short story / prose. If you choose a wrong theme then you might get 0 marks even though you wrote out your sample answer correctly - though the examiner might be friendly to give you a few marks. However, you want FULL MARKS, you don't want a few marks, so get your act together and learn a few themes that could come up on your paper for your studied literature.
This goes for ALL SUBJECTS. You should not be asking for notes off somebody (unless you're very lazy....), including me (language vocabulary is different though). Remember that your best teacher is yourself! This means that you make your own notes! Trust me, you will learn 10x easier when studying your own notes.
You needn't worry about how many poems and short stories (not counting scéalta, aistí nó litreacha) you have prepared. As long as you have prepared 1 poem and 1 short story, then you're virtually set! I can assure you that there is always at least one theme that fits into the poem or short story you study for your Irish paper.