How to get an O1 in Leaving Cert DCG

By Val Connell - 5 minute read

Val is an expert teacher in DCG and in this guide, he shares his top tips for succeeding in your DCG exam and project. 

Jump to:

Show all sections


Welcome to your guide in achieving an O1 in DCG. This guide will teach you the layout of the course and the structure of the project along with useful tips on how to study for the exam.

Course breakdown

The project

The project is worth 40% (160 marks) and is a design-based project that involves an investigation of how an existing object is designed. The project allows you to modify or come up with a completely new design for the object in question. In addition, you create a computer model of the existing object and your new/modified object. The design brief is released by the State Examinations Committee (SEC) each year.


Here's an example of a design brief:

Parts A and B

The project is divided into two parts (A and B). Part A is a design investigation into an existing object and is divided into the following format:

Part B is divided into the following outputs:

If you want to get an O1, you need to follow this instruction in the design brief to the letter. At the end of the project, you must hand up a bound and printed portfolio with a USB enclosed in the portfolio that contains all your files, i.e. CAD files, along with a soft copy of your project. 

Top tips

Some top tips for your project include:

  • Start the project immediately. It can be very overwhelming in November/December if you leave yourself with too much to do.

  • Pick a simple object to model in Solidworks as it will gain as many marks as an object with difficult geometry.

  • Keep all of your sketches fully defined from the beginning.

  • Use output 3 (your electronic model) to help you improve output 2 if needs be.

  • Get your hands on a physical example of the object you have picked to model in Part A. Don’t use pictures from the internet.


Keep regular backups of your project. Save it to a cloud server and regularly save your Solidworks modelling. Do not under any circumstances submit practice Solidworks material that was modelled outside of school as anything you submit must be completed in school.

The exam

The exam is worth 60% and consists of three sections:

Section A

Section A is worth 60 marks and consists of 4 short questions that examine you on the core aspects of the course. These short questions are partially completed and test your understanding and skills of a topic. You answer 3 questions and you must answer them on the sheet itself. A common mistake in the mocks is to try and draw this page out from scratch in the exam.

Section B

Section B is worth 120 marks and consists of 3 long questions that examine you on the core aspects of the course. The long questions are drawn by you from scratch on A2 paper and test your in-depth knowledge of a topic. Answer any 2 questions (2023 LC Exams Covid-19 amendments). Each question is worth 60 marks.

Top tip

Section B of the exam is currently very predictable with the same three topics being asked every year. They have been repeated in this section for nearly ten years.

Section C

This section is on applied geometry and is worth 60 marks. You are presented with 5 questions, all drawn from the following areas:

  • Geological geometry

  • Structural forms

  • Surface geometry

  • Dynamic mechanisms

  • Assemblies

These are long questions like in Section B. You must answer one question and this is answered on A2 paper. Each question is worth 60 marks.

Studying this subject

Below are some of my top tips for preparing for the DCG exam:

  • Practice drawing exam questions because looking at online solutions will only help so much.

  • Master the basics of the subject, especially the 15 key principles and orthographic/auxiliary projection (in truth, the whole course is underpinned by orthographic projection). 

  • The exam is very predictable so if you master elevations, plans and end elevations, you will do very well.

  • The questions in Section A are quite predictable. Orthographic projection, conics, perspective and solids in contact frequently come up.

  • Section B has had the same questions asked repeatedly every year for a long while. Make sure to have your best questions picked for Section B on the day.

  • If you have extra time, it would be better to answer additional questions rather than spend a large amount of time on just one.


Here's a recommended timing breakdown for the exam:

Reading questions 6 minutes
Section A 36 minutes (12 minutes per question)
Section B 66 minutes (33 minutes per question)
Section C 66 minutes (33 minutes per question)
Reading over your work 6 minutes


The above table represents a suggested time limit per question pre Covid-19 exams (when there was no reduction in questions required to be answered).

Best of luck! You'll be great.

By Val Connell

Val is a DCG and Junior Cycle Graphics teacher at Newpark Comprehensive School in Dublin for the last 8 years. He has also taught Leaving cert construction studies in the past. 

Related subjects & topics
Explore similar posts in our community