FAQs

Why do a TEG exam?

TEG is the first and only system of certification for adult learners of Irish, administered by the Centre for Irish Language at Maynooth University. Similar systems have already been developed for the majority of other European languages. The various levels in TEG are broadly based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching and Assessment (Council of Europe, 2001). This system helps learners to plan their study and to get recognition for the progress they have made.

A further advantage of the system is that it gives employers specific information about the language ability of candidates for the purpose of employment or promotion. This is of particular importance since the implementation of the provisions of the Official Languages Act (2003).  A number of organisations in Ireland now specify TEG certification as a basic requirement for employees or use TEG exams in order to assess the Irish-language proficiency of applicants for jobs, schemes, awards or courses.

TEG certification is also recognised by the Department of Education and Skills. TEG Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) satisfies the entry requirement for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in primary education in the teacher training colleges. This provides a great opportunity for people who would like to enter the teaching profession but do not have the necessary Irish language qualifications (e.g. Leaving Certificate Higher Level Irish). Unlike the Leaving Certificate syllabus and exam, TEG syllabuses and exams are completely language-based and designed specifically for adult learners which greatly enhances the learning experience.

In addition, applicants for the Professional Master of Education (Primary) are required to achieve a minimum of 65% in a TEG B1 oral exam in order to apply for that programme. More information here.

Will the exams and exam centres be affected by Covid-19?

From January 2022, we intend to run the written exam in Maynooth University and in our other centres around the country. There is a possibility that oral exams will be run online, but arrangements will be confirmed in accordance with public health guidelines and regulations at the time. 

Who are the TEG exams for?

Anyone can sit a TEG exam. It is not necessary to attend a particular course, nor are there any age restrictions for candidates.

The system consists of five different levels, providing exams for learners of all levels of ability from beginners to fluent speakers. Candidates can do the entire exam (listening, reading, writing and speaking) and be awarded Full certification at a particular exam level, or it is also possible to do the oral exam only for Partial certification.

TEG exams at various levels have been completed by journalists, members of An Garda Síochána, employees in preschools, primary and secondary school teachers, university tutors, those who wish to add to their qualifications for the purpose of employment, those  learning Irish as a pastime and many others.

What kind of examinations are TEG Exams?

TEG exams are general proficiency exams that show the language proficiency level of the candidate.  Candidates can do the entire exam (listening, reading, writing and speaking) and be awarded Full certification at a particular exam level, or it is also possible to do the oral exam only for Partial certification.

Where is TEG recognised?

TEG certification is also recognised by the Department of Education and Skills. TEG Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) satisfies the entry requirement for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in primary education in the teacher training colleges. This provides a great opportunity for people who would like to enter the teaching profession but do not have the necessary Irish language qualifications (e.g. Leaving Certificate Higher Level Irish).

In addition, applicants for the Professional Master of Education (Primary) are required to achieve a minimum of 65% in a TEG B1 oral exam in order to apply for that programme. More information here.

Candidates presenting for matriculation a qualification other than the Leaving Certificate, such as the International Baccalaureate Diploma or the French Baccalauréat, and whose primary and post-primary education has been in the Republic of Ireland, will satisfy the Irish language requirement by presenting a pass in TEG Meánleibhéal 1 (B1) exam.

The TEG system gives employers specific information about the language ability of candidates for the purpose of employment or promotion. This is of particular importance since the implementation of the provisions of the Official Languages Act (2003).  A number of organisations in Ireland now specify TEG certification as a basic requirement for employees, or use TEG exams in order to assess the Irish-language proficiency of applicants for jobs, schemes, awards or courses.

What is partial certification?

Candidates can opt to do the oral exam only.  Marks for the oral exam only will be shown on the certificates of successful candidates.

How often can I take a TEG exam?

It is up to the candidate to decide how often s/he will take a particular exam.  When candidates are awarded a mark which is close to the pass mark, they often decide to attempt the exam again as soon as possible.  If the mark that a candidate is awarded is substantially below the pass mark, the candidate may consider getting feedback on their exam.  Before taking the exam again, it is recommended that the candidate spends a reasonable amount of time taking on board the advice that they are given in the feedback.  Based on our experience, TEG staff believe that it is not in candidates’ best interests to take the exam too often in a short period of time – for example, over the course of a year,  Candidates will find advice and instruction in the Chief Examiner’s Report. There is a report available at each exam level. 

Are there hints or tips available in relation to TEG exams?

Yes. There is a video tutorial in the Exam material section detailing ten tips for candidates looking to undertake a TEG oral exam at any level. In addition, the exam layouts at the different levels are specified in the relevant syllabus. Candidates also have access to two sample exams at every level, and the Chief Examiner’s Report contains addition advice and guidance too. All the materials above can be found in the Exam material section.

Do I have to attend an Irish language course in order to take any of the exams?

No. Even though many of the organisations teaching Irish in Ireland and abroad use the TEG syllabuses and teaching materials, there is no requirement to attend any particular course or to use any particular learning materials in order to sit the exam. However, it is certainly helpful to attend a course that addresses the requirements of the exams.

Click here for information regarding the education centres that provide Irish courses based on the TEG syllabuses.

Candidates are reminded that it is very important that they familiarise themselves with the relevant syllabus and exam materials before sitting a TEG exam.

What should I do prior to the exam?

You should receive your examination number and other practical information at least 10 days before the date of the exam.  If you have not received this information, please contact the Language Centre: (01) 7083737 / teanga@mu.ie.

Please ensure that you are familiar with all of the following:

  • the time, date and venue of your examination(s)
  • the relevant syllabus
  • the layout of the examination paper and the different sections within the examination paper
  • the percentage of marks allocated to each section of the exam
  • the types of questions and tasks in each section
  • the guidelines for the oral examination
  • the different sections of the oral examination

​You will find all of this information in the section About Exams.

What will happen on the day of the examination?

Before the exam: Ensure that you have sufficient time to reach the examination hall. Candidates should be in the examination hall at least 15 minutes before the commencement of the exam. Candidates will be provided with a map to help them locate the examination hall; however, those candidates who intend sitting the examination in Maynooth are reminded that the university campus is extensive and that it may take time to locate the parking facilities and make one’s way to the examination hall. Whatever centre your examination is held in, there will be a TEG invigilator there to welcome you, to register you and to assist you.

Please remember the following on the day of your examination:

  • Be on time. You are reminded that no candidates will be admitted to the examination hall once the exam has begun. This is to minimise disturbance to candidates who have commenced the exam.
  • Bring a photo ID. A current passport, driver’s licence or national identity card are the only forms of ID that will be accepted. If you do not have one of the accepted forms of ID with you on the day of the exam, you will not be permitted to take the exam.
  • Bring the examination number that will have been sent to you, as you will be required to write it on the examination paper.
  • Bring pens for the written examination.

You should also remember that mobile phones and reference materials (e.g. dictionaries, notes) are not permitted in any TEG examinations. TEG will provide a safe storage area in the examination hall/room for personal items (e.g. coats, bags, phones). All mobile phones must be completely turned off before all examinations – and not left on silent.

The written examination – what happens in the examination hall?

The invigilator will give clear and comprehensive instructions at the beginning of the examination. To assist your preparation, however, below is a list of important points relating to the day of the examination.

  • There will be a safe storage space in the examination hall for personal items. All coats and bags must be left in that space, as well your mobile phone (switched off).
  • The invigilator will check your proof of identity and will show you the seat allocated to you.
  • Candidates are reminded that books, dictionaries or paper of any sort cannot be brought into the examination hall. All answers are to be written in the space provided in the answer book provided. Rough paper and extra pens will be available if needed.
  • You are advised to listen carefully to whatever directions the invigilator may give.
  • Examiners will be present to answer questions during the examination, or if a candidate wishes to leave the examination hall for any reason. Candidates should raise their hand if they wish to ask a question or make such a request.
  • Candidates may ask the invigilator to repeat instructions at the beginning of the examination and no marks will be lost as a result. However, in the interest of fairness, the invigilator will not be able to provide any additional information other than repeating the instructions. 
  • There will be a clock in the examination hall and the invigilator will inform candidates from time to time of how much time is remaining, e.g. when there are 60/30/10 minutes remaining.
  • Candidates who finish the exam early may leave the examination hall any time from the end of the listening exam until half an hour before the end of the entire exam.  Candidates may not leave the examination hall during the aural exam nor during the final half hour of the written exam.
  • An invigilator will accompany any candidate who needs to use the toilet facilities during the exam.
  • When you have completed the exam, ensure that your examination number is written on each answer book that you hand up to the invigilator. You are asked to remain seated until all papers have been collected by the invigilator.
  • All examination materials (including rough work) will be collected by the invigilator at the end of the examination. Candidates are prohibited from removing any examination materials from the examination centre.
  • Candidates are prohibited from copying, recording, sharing or distributing by any means any examination materials or any parts of the examination. Any candidate found to have copied, recorded, shared or distributed examination materials by any means may be liable to legal prosecution.

Guidance in relation to the written examination

  • Read every question and the directions that accompany each question carefully.
  • Be sure to follow the directions given. For example, if you are directed to put a tick in one box, no marks will be awarded if you tick two or more boxes. If you are directed to write one word as an answer or to write one word in a gap, then you should comply with the directions given. There is a danger that candidates will lose marks if they do not follow the directions given.
  • If candidates are asked to write a passage then they should observe the stated word limit.
  • Candidates are advised to pay attention to their handwriting. It is important that the examiner can read candidates' answers in order that (s)he can award marks fairly.
  • Particular care should be taken with regard to spelling and especially with regard to the following: full stops, capital letters and the síneadh fada on vowels.

Guidance in relation to the oral examination

  • Ensure that you know where your oral examination is taking place and that you arrive on time.
  • You will be required to produce your examination number and proof of identity for the oral examination.
  • Check the directions for the oral examination and ensure you are familiar with the examination format. For examinations at levels Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) and Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2) candidates must be present 5 minutes before the examination time in order to prepare for the role-play task.
  • Candidates are reminded that the oral examination is recorded.

Important notice

It is imperative that candidates adhere to all examination procedures and regulations. If a candidate is found to have breached a rule or regulation, TEG will not grade that candidate’s efforts and no grade will be issued to the candidate.

Where can I find a preparatory course for TEG exams?

Click here for information regarding the education centres that provide Irish courses based on the TEG syllabuses.

How many hours of study are required to prepare for each of the exams?

  • Learners who wish to take Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) are advised to spend around 80-100 hours studying the language or attending language classes.  Those wishing to take the Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2) exam should spend an additional 80-100 hours studying the language or attending classes.
  • It is recommended that candidates for the Meánleibhéal 1 (B1) spend around 350–400 hours studying the language or attending classes in addition to the hours spent studying at Bonnleibhéal 1 and Bonnleibhéal 2. Those intending to take Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) should spend an additional 500-600 hours studying the language.
  • Candidates for Ardleibhéal 1 (C1) should spend an additional 1,000 hours studying the language or attending classes.

This table shows the approximate number of hours necessary to reach the level required at each of the exam levels:

CEFR

Hours of study/learning

TEG syllabus

A1

80-100

Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1)

A2

+ 160-200

Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2)

B1

+ 350-400

Meánleibhéal 1 (B1)

B2

+ 500-600

Meánleibhéal 2 (B2)

C1

+ 1,000

Ardleibhéal 1 (C1)

C2

+ 1,500

Ardleibhéal 2 (C2)

How will I know which exam level is most suitable for me?

The best way to choose an exam level is to carefully read the descriptions on the various levels provided here.  Then, look at the sample exam papers to get an idea of the level of difficulty involved in each section of the exam.  Sample answers are provided for one of the sample papers at each level from Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) to Meánleibhéal 2 (B2).  Be sure to attempt the questions in the sample papers to get some insight into your language proficiency in listening, reading and in some of the written tasks. 

You should attempt TEG’s Online Language Test. This will give you an idea of the level you’re currently at as an Irish language learner.

If you are attending an Irish course, your teacher will advise you as to the most appropriate level for you.  Your teacher should also advise you as to your own particular strengths and weaknesses, especially in relation to speaking and writing.  You may also contact TEG staff for further advice.

When and where are the exams held?

The exams are held in a number of locations in Ireland and abroad, subject to demand. Exam levels Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1), Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2), Meánleibhéal 1 (B1), Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) are usually held in April or May, while Ardleibhéal 1 (C1) is usually held in January each year. B2 is generally also available in August, and some additional A1 and A2 exams are generally held in exam centres abroad subject to demand. The latest information on exam dates is available here

Please note that exams will be cancelled in any location where there isn’t a minimum number of 15 candidates. You will receive confirmation about your exam centre 10 days before the exam date. You are advised not to make any accommodation/travel bookings until you receive this confirmation from Lárionad na Gaeilge.

Where a group of candidates wish to sit the oral exam in their own area at a different time of year in order to attain partial accreditation, this can be arranged with TEG staff. Please note that a minimum number of 15 candidates is required for such an arrangement.

 

What is the cost of the exams?

All information regarding TEG fees (full certification and partial certification, fees for adults and for post-primary school students) is available here.

What are the payment methods?

Adult candidates can register and pay online. More information here.

Post-primary school teachers should contact the TEG staff for information regarding payment methods for school groups. Send an email to teanga@mu.ie or call (01) 708 3737.

Refunds

Candidates who withdraw their application up to 20 working days before the exam date may request a partial refund of the exam fee (cf. ‘If I have paid the exam fee and can no longer attend the exam, will my fee be refunded?’ below).  A refund cannot be offered to candidates who withdraw their applications any later than that, unless they provide a medical certificate or other evidence deemed acceptable by the Centre for Irish Language. Candidates should inform the Centre for Irish Language by email (teanga@mu.ie) should they wish to withdraw their applications.

Does TEG satisfy the Irish language requirement for postgraduate courses in primary teaching?

Yes. The Department of Education and Skills, the Teaching Council and the Colleges of Education have recognised TEG Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) as one of the Irish language qualifications that meet the entry requirement for postgraduate courses in primary teaching. In addition, applicants for the Professional Master of Education (Primary) are required to achieve a minimum of 65% in a TEG B1 oral exam in order to apply for that programme. More information here.

 

If I have paid the exam fee and can no longer attend the exam, will my fee be refunded?

If a candidate withdraws from the exam more than 20 days before the exam, the following conditions will apply:

(i)  Full certification: the exam fee will be refunded but a €40 administration fee will apply
(ii) Partial certification: the exam fee will not be refunded

If a candidate withdraws from the exam less than 20 days period prior to the exam, the exam fee will not be refunded unless the candidate supplies a valid doctor’s certificate.

How can I register for one of the exams?

Information regarding registration is available here.

I registered for the TEG exam but I haven’t heard from the TEG office. What should I do?

Immediately after registration, you should receive an automated response by email. That email will include your transaction ID and a receipt for the exam fee that you paid.  If you did not receive this, please email teanga@mu.ie immediately. If you have received this, you will receive your exam details by email 10-14 days before the exam. 

Can I do different parts of the exam at different times?

Learners can take the oral exam only (partial certification) at whatever level they choose. If candidates are successful, they will receive a certificate indicating their level of spoken Irish. The marks attained in the oral exam will be clearly shown on the certificate. It will also be clear that this is not a full TEG certificate and that oral competence only was tested.

At Ardleibhéal 1 (C1), candidates who receive partial certification can obtain full certification without resitting the oral exam if they undertake the rest of the exam within two years. For example, if a candidate receives partial certification in the Oral Exam at this level anytime during 2021, he/ she will have until the end of 2023 to undertake the other parts of the exam at that level (Listening, Reading, Writing and Use of Irish)* in order to obtain full certification.

In the case of exam levels Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) to Meánleibhéal 2 (B2), candidates will be required to take all parts of the exam in one session in order to obtain full certification.

*Note that candidates have to undertake these sections in one session and that these sessions normally take place once annually.

Can individual post-primary school students who are under 18 take a TEG exam?

Candidates under 18 years who are not taking the TEG exam in their own school, or who are under 18 years and have a disability which affects their writing are required to submit this consent form, signed by a parent/guardian, which must be sent to teanga@mu.ie no later than one week after the exam registration deadline.

Can I take one of the exams outside of the official exam dates?

Oral exam: Candidates who wish to take the oral exam only can arrange with TEG staff to do so throughout the year, provided that there is a minimum of 15 candidates for the exam.

Written exam: In general, written exams are not conducted outside of official TEG dates. However, if you are part of an organisation where there are more than 15 candidates to sit an exam at a particular level, contact the TEG staff and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

Exam for job appointment: If you would like to organise exams or language proficiency tests in your organisation (e.g. for recruitment purposes), please contact TEG staff and we will try to accommodate your request.

What can candidates do if they don’t understand the directions given at the beginning of the exam or during the oral exam?

Candidates can ask the examiner to repeat the directions and they will not lose marks as a result of doing this. That said, in the interests of fairness, the examiner cannot give any additional information apart from repeating the directions.

Is the use of dictionaries allowed in the exams?

The use of dictionaries is not permitted in any of the exams. Certain questions in the exam test the candidate's understanding of particular words and phrases and their usage.

Will candidates lose marks if they misspell words in the aural exam?

At beginners' levels, Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) and Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2), it is accepted that candidates will not always be totally correct in their spelling. Mistakes in spelling are accepted, therefore, if it is clear what word is intended, for example, 'diardain' instead of 'Déardaoin'. If a particular word is spelt out loud on the recording, candidates will be expected to spell correctly the word in question.

At the other levels, candidates will not lose marks for spelling mistakes provided that what they write is clear and intelligible to the examiners. 

I have a disability. Can I take a TEG exam?

The Centre for Irish Language is committed to providing a range of supports to ensure that candidates with disabilities or specific learning difficulties have full access to the TEG exams, and we make relevant supports and accommodations available when required. Verification of a candidate’s disability or learning difficulty must be provided to the Centre for Irish Language on registration for a TEG exam. If you are taking a TEG exam to satisfy the entry requirements for a particular academic programme, you are advised to contact the course provider to confirm their entry requirements. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that s/he meets the criteria regarding exemptions as specified by the relevant institute. If you wish to discuss your requirements with us, please call (01) 708 3737 or email teanga@mu.ie.

 

 

What is the pass mark?

The pass mark from Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) to Meánleibhéal 2 (B2) is 50% .  60% is the pass mark for Ardleibhéal 1 (C1).

The following grades will be awarded from Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) to Meánleibhéal 2 (B2): 

50-64% Pass 
65-79% Pass with Merit 
80-100% Pass with Distinction

Marks obtained in each section of the exam (Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing) will be included on the candidate’s certificate.

Ardleibhéal 1 (C1)

60% Pass *
80-100% Pass with Distinction
*Candidates must obtain a minimum of 10% (out of 20%) in each section of the exam in order to earn an overall pass in the exam.  See Ardleibhéal 1 (C1) for further information about this exam. 

Do I have to pass each part of the exam in order to gain an overall pass?

No. Although candidates are given the marks they attained in each section, the marks from each section are added together to give the overall result. Therefore, depending on the marks, a candidate could fail a section or two but pass the overall exam. If candidates are successful in the exam, certificates will be awarded to them according to the following grades:

Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1)

Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2)

50 - 64% Pass

50 - 64% Pass

65 - 79% Pass with Merit

65 - 79% Pass with Merit

80 - 100% Pass with Distinction

80 - 100% Pass with Distinction

Meánleibhéal 1 (B1)

Meánleibhéal 2 (B2)

50 - 64% Pass

50 - 64% Pass

65 - 79% Pass with Merit

65 - 79% Pass with Merit

80 - 100% Pass with Distinction

80 - 100% Pass with Distinction

Ardleibhéal 1 (C1)

60% Pass*

80 - 100% Pass with Distinction

*Candidates must obtain a minimum of 10% (out of 20%) in each section of the exam to earn an overall pass in the exam.  See the Ardleibhéal 1 (C1) exam for more information.

I failed the full certification exam overall but I passed the oral exam. Can I get a partial TEG certificate which shows that I passed the oral exam?

Yes, you can. Send an email to teanga@mu.ie to request partial certification. Please provide your TEG exam number in all correpondence. 

I’m unhappy with my exam grade or I have query in relation to my exam grade or performance. What are my options?

Candidates who are dissatisfied with their grade from a TEG exam, or who have queries in relation to their grade, can avail of the following options:

  • Appeal
  • Additional Feedback

All information relating to those processes (including fees and application forms) is available here.

Do candidates have to sit the Bonnleibhéal 1 (A1) exam in advance of sitting the Bonnleibhéal 2 (A2) exam?

Candidates can take any TEG exam. Each exam is independent and it is up to the candidate to choose whatever exam is most suitable for him/her. Talk to you teacher or to TEG staff for advice on the most appropriate level for you.

The syllabuses and sample exam materials will help guide you.

You might also consider taking TEG’s Online Language Test in order to get a general idea of your ability in the language.

Are there any restrictions regarding the age of candidates?

There is no age restriction for candidates who wish to undertake any of the TEG exams. However, the texts and tasks are for the most part directed at adult learners.

General advice on how to adapt the materials for post-primary school students is provided here.

How long does a TEG certificate/qualification remain valid?

When you are applying for a job or an academic course, the employer or institute to which you are applying may decide that your TEG qualification is no longer valid after a certain period of time has elapsed (more than two years, for example) and you may be required to take the test again. This is done to ensure that candidates have not forgotten language structures, vocabulary, etc., particularly if the candidate hasn't had the opportunity to practise the language since the TEG qualification was awarded.  You are advised to always check with the employer/institute that your certificate is still valid. 

If I have other questions?

You can contact us directly in the following ways:

Email: teanga@mu.ie.

Phone: (01) 708 3737.