Advice Centre > For Parents & Students > Learning Resources > Exam Papers > Subjects > Leaving Certificate exam paper: Art History

In recent years, the Leaving Certificate exams have seen adjustments by the State Examinations Commission due to a reduction in teaching hours as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Exams are subject to change again in the coming years, so it is important that students are aware of what to expect. In this article, you will understand to the best of our knowledge what to expect from the upcoming Art History examination, how to find and use reliable revision resources, including revision guides, practice questions and mark schemes.

The Art Leaving Certificate exam

The recent exam adjustments have may only impact your Art History written paper so speak to your teacher about any specific adjustments for your year group. The Art History paper has historically consisted of three sections:

  • Section I: Art in Ireland
  • Section II: European Art 1,000AD - Present
  • Section III: Appreciation of Art

Students will have a broad choice of questions in the examination however; in order for candidates to demonstrate their understanding of the syllabus, they will be required to answer questions from different sections of the exam paper. You must check with your teacher or the State Examinations Commission on how many answers you will be required to give. This may vary from year to year as assessment arrangements change.

You will be required to write an essay in response to each question. You will not be required to answer any short-answer questions. However, you will need to demonstrate your understanding of key terminology, definitions, and historical context. You may be required to provide a sketch as part of your response.

Studying for Leaving Cert Art History

You are being examined on your knowledge and critical thinking. You will need to practice analysing art through the ages and provide thorough context behind the artworks. In order to succeed in this subject, you will need to work on your art history skills throughout the course. Here are some study tips to help you succeed:

  • Visit art Galleries, museums and other in-person visual displays of art throughout the course. Consider the context behind both contemporary and historical pieces. Also, consider the composition.
  • Practice life sketching under time pressure - you may be required to sketch in your written examination, so practice quick sketches, perhaps when you are out and about.
  • Learn key terminology - get used to using appropriate visual and critical terminology to communicate your understanding of the context.
  • Make yourself familiar with famous artists and artworks from all three exam paper categories (Irish Art, European Art and Appreciation of Art). Artworks and artists may come up year after year.
  • Practice past exam questions - Many artists and artworks will come up time and time again. Practicing questions will ensure that you are prepared.
  • Use mark schemes - you will learn how to correctly structure your answers and identify the components of top-mark answers.
  • Refer to sample answers in your revision material. Since you will be writing long answer questions, it is vital that you understand how to structure your essay to achieve the highest marks possible. Example answers will help you with good structure and tone.

Art Leaving Certificate study materials

Unlike practical art examinations and coursework, you will primarily need to study for the written Art History examination rather than practice your artistic skills. The benefit of this is that there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help you prepare. offers a variety of study materials that closely follow the Leaving Certificate Art specification.

We can offer a complete revision guide for your Art History final exam. In addition to this comprehensive Art History revision guide, we also offer an Art History textbook and a New Appreciation of Art revision guide

Less Stress More Success - Leaving Cert - Art History

Expert exam tips and advice.

Highlights key information. In-context exam questions. Concise revision.

Breakdown of the exam. Past questions & guidance.

Examples of sample answers fully analysed.

Appreciating Art - New / 3rd Edition (2021)

Illustrated timelines.

Up-to-date content.

Introduction to Visual Studies, detailed diagrams, photos and artworks with compositional analyses.

Chapter Reviews.

Free eBook.

History and Appreciation of Art

Course covered in detail.

Key terminology.

Black and white line drawings help with exam sketches.

Revision questions.

Art leaving Certificate past exam papers

The best way to prepare for this written exam is by practicing exam questions before the final exam, this is especially important if you are new to written examinations. Practice exams are designed to help you prepare and make sure you know what to expect on exam day.

You can find past exam questions and mark schemes in the revision guides, such as in the New Appreciation of Art or the Less Stress, More Success revision guides. Alternatively, or once you have completed these and you need more practice, you can access past paper questions online here. Your exam may be different to the exam papers you have practiced online, so make sure to speak to your Art History teacher about what to expect from your specific examination paper.

Frequently asked questions

How long should an art history essay be for the Leaving Certificate?

Answers to the essay questions on the Art History exam should be between 600 and 1,000 words. However, markers will be looking for quality over quantity. For this reason, you should look at our breakdown and analysis of example answers to understand what markers will be looking for and how to structure your essay.

What percentage is H1 in leaving certificate?

To get an H1 (top band grade) in a Leaving Cert for Art, the percentage boundary is between 90 and 100%. To achieve this, Leaving Certificate students should use a variety of study techniques and materials and make sure they are applying what they learn in a practical way. Refer to mark schemes and sample answers in your revision to make sure you understand the requirements for top band answers.

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