A great deal of the work at this level continues to build and develop the listening and the composing skills worked on at Junior Level.  Half of the examination involves two written papers, each worth 25%.

The Listening Paper

Two courses A and B alternate every three years. ‘A’ (currently) is the study of works by J.S Bach, Tchaikovsky, Queen and Barry. ‘B’ is the study of the works by Mozart, Berlioz, The Beatles and Deane.

Questions 1-4 are concerned with the testing of listening and analysis skills which directly stem from question 1 and 2 of the Junior paper.

There is a more detailed study of Irish traditional music from its roots to current fusions and modern trends at Leaving Certificate (question 5).The writing of an essay on an aspect of Irish music is also part of this question. This is a continuation of the work done on question 3 at Junior Level.

Question 6 (Aural Skills) examines listening skills. It is an enjoyable question to prepare as anything from Handel to S Club 7 is fair game on this question! (This develops from question 5 on the Junior paper).

The Composing Paper

This paper is concerned with the writing of a 16 bar melody (question 7 of the Junior paper) and a backing chord piece (question 8 of the Junior paper).The other half!


  • 25% performing practical which consists of 4 contrasting pieces on one instrument/voice in any genre.

And one of the following:

  • An extra 25% in performance, which may be extra pieces or music technology.
  • A listening elective worth 25%. This involves in depth study of a topic and a detailed report written in an extra exam paper. Students must also submit 10 CD tracks to illustrate musical points.
  • A composition elective worth 25%.  Here, students submit a journal with 2 compositions that they have worked on over the course of 2 years and all of  the rough drafts of their work.

By allowing students to choose where their final 25% comes from, we give them the power to play to their musical strengths.  They in effect tailor part of their exam to suit themselves.