Ultimate Guide To Revising The Novels Leaving Certificate English


A good starting point with any text is to get to know the context. At the beginning of term you may have had a lesson which highlighted the key points of the text. This is something very easy to learn and will get you the first couple of points when you show your knowledge of them. Note:

·         Title

·         Author

·         Date

If you have not done so already, go get a piece of paper and felt tip and write this down. It seems silly, I know, but if you are not confident in these three facts it could determine how an examiner reads the rest of your answer. With these three points you can already say so much about the text.

Being fully aware of the context of a novel will make your answer stronger, it will show the examiner that you are aware of much more than just the content.

Remember: State clearly in the first paragraph: the full name of the text, the author’s name and the year it was written. Refer to context to back up arguments about elements of the novel.



Genre is an easy thing to remember and will also embellish any ideas you already have about the novel. Genre can determine what we see in the text, next time you read the novel, or your notes, keep the genre in mind. Make a list of when you see elements of the genre and this will really help when you revise.

Remember: Be aware of genre and a lot of examples of it will become apparent.



It is essential that you are aware of the main characters in the novel you are studying. Again, the best way to find out how much you know is by writing it down. For example, you could make a list of the traits of your favourite character.

You can also make different types of visual aids to help you remember more complex themes with the characters. For example, you could draw a spider diagram to illustrate the relationships between the characters.

Each character in each of these novels is important. Authors spend a long time writing, editing and re-writing their work. All characters have a purpose, even those with minimal parts. It is up to you what characters you choose to discuss in your answers and why. If you have read the novel or looked at some pretty good notes you will be able to talk about the main character’s well. Having a full understanding of the characters and how they fit in to the novel will really flesh out your answer.

Remember: Write lists of the characters; you will find many have an interesting part to play and this is worth talking about in your answers.



Themes are the fundamental, and often universal, ideas explored within a novel. Each novel will have a few strong themes running through it, you will have been over these in class but remember to keep them in mind as there may be a question on them. The theme of the text could arguably be the most important part. If you see the theme as the foundation it is easier to see why the author made certain choices.

Themes may be discussed at length and showing examples of them will often be necessary in your answers. Try to remember back to the novel and link certain events with the themes you know are there. Once you have partnered certain scenarios with the main themes it will become very clear to you.

Remember: Note the main themes down and think of a few examples, if they are confused to you ask a teacher or classmate. A second opinion often helps you advance your initial idea.


Examples – P.E.E!

Throughout this guide I have often referred to linking examples to the main aspects of the novel. As you have most likely been told, examiners like ideas to be backed up with examples. So, if you haven’t heard this acronym already be sure to write it down:

-          Point

-          Evidence

-          Explanation

It is an easy thing to remember and will earn you lots of points if used well. The idea is that you make your point, give your evidence and then explain what you mean by it.


Remember: Structuring your answer in this way will help define your point.



Try not to panic about your essays and exams when it comes to novels. Novels may seem long-winded but when you break them down they are quite easy to follow. If you struggle with them make sure to make clear, bright notes on the points mentioned above and it will all come together.


Good luck!

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