Communication Skills Examinations 2017-21

Syllabus 2017-21

Communication skills examinations encourage the development of confidence in:

  • speaking clearly and fluently
  • interpreting a text (verse, prose or drama selection) with appropriate expression (and movement/ gesture, if the drama option is chosen)
  • the use of practical conversation and speaking skills
  • the use of imagination and confidence to explore a topic, either in speech or dramatic form

Our Communication Skills examinations have been designed to facilitate class teachers in primary schools, English/ Drama teachers in post-primary schools and, of course, speech and drama teachers teaching in primary schools, post-primary schools, or their own schools and academies.

Age ranges/ class groups have been suggested for each grade, for your guidance. However, these are suggestions only, and teachers are free to make their own judgement in relation to the most appropriate grade for their candidates.

Movement and gesture are expected in the drama and improvisation options in Intermediate, TY and Senior exams.

Please refer to  ‘How Irish Board Examiners Assess Candidates’ for detailed guidelines on the criteria used by the Irish Board during the examinations.

For children for whom English is a second language, please see English as a Second Language Examinations.

To book online click here. Examination fees are available here. Please note that the minimum fee requirement for an examination centre is €400. 


Preliminary Examinations

Preliminary One – Junior Infants

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Answer simple questions about the poem

Preliminary Two Senior Infants

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Answer questions about the poem and the meaning of the words

Junior Examinations

Junior One – First Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Announce and read a short extract (approximately 6 lines) from a book of your choice/ your school reader
  3. Hold a short conversation with the examiner about the poem and yourself

Junior Two – Second Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Announce and read a short extract (approximately 8 lines) from a book of your choice/your school reader
  3. Hold a short conversation with the examiner about the poem and your favourite sports/ hobbies/interests

Junior Three – Third Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Announce and read a short extract (approximately 10 lines) from a book of your choice/your school reader
  3. Bring to the examination a toy, book or collection and use it to make a one-minute presentation to the examiner

Junior Four – Fourth Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem
  2. Announce and read a short extract (approximately 12 lines) from a book of your choice/ your school reader
  3. Present a one-minute summary of the story from which your extract was taken and discuss the story with the examiner

Intermediate Examinations

Intermediate One – Fifth Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic selection
  2. Present a one and a half-minute talk about a memorable holiday experience OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Intermediate Two – Sixth Class

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic selection
  2. Present a one and a half-minute talk about a person from history you admire OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Intermediate Three – First Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic selection
  2. In your own words tell the story of a book or film of your choice (approximately one minute) OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Intermediate Four – Second Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic selection
  2. In your own words describe a notable historical event (approximately two minutes) OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Intermediate Five – Third Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic selection
  2. In your own words describe a memorable place you have visited recently (approximately two minutes) OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Transition Year Examinations

Transition Option A – Transition Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic or Musical Theatre selection (this may be performed as a duologue with another candidate) OR Announce and speak from memory a short prose extract (approximately 8 – 12 lines) from a book of your choice
  2. Present a one minute informal talk on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Transition Option B – Transition Year

To reflect the variety of Transition Year Programmes in communication, public speaking, debating and drama, the format and structure of Communication Skills exams for Transition Year can be arranged to suit the choices and needs of individual schools.

Options may include prepared talks on own-choice topics or topics provided by the Irish Board, unprepared talks or other elements suggested by the school. Examinations may be held on a one-to-one basis or in front of an audience which may include students and/or parents.

Please contact the Irish Board with your proposals and we will do our best to meet your needs.

Candidates delivering talks or speeches are encouraged not to read or memorise their pieces. If notes or aides mémoire are used, they should be used in such a way as to not cause distraction from the speaker.


Senior Examinations

Senior One – Fifth Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute dramatic or Musical Theatre selection (this may be performed as a duologue with another candidate) OR Announce and speak from memory a short prose extract (approximately 12 – 16 lines) from a book of your choice
  2. Present a one minute informal talk on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination OR Announce and perform a one minute improvisation on a topic provided by the examiner on the day of the examination

Final – Sixth Year

  1. Speak from memory a short poem OR Announce and perform a two minute solo dramatic selection taken from a play of literary merit OR Announce and speak from memory a short extract (approximately 12 – 16 lines) from a book of your choice
  2. Present a two minute prepared talk on a moral/ ethical issue
  3. Hold a discussion with the examiner about what you plan to do when you leave school, and why