Junior Cert (Higher Level): Q.5 - Source Question

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The Source Question is like a mix between the Picture Question and the Document Question. You'll find a picture and a document both relating to the same topic, and you must answer a mixture of short and long questions on the picture, the document and the topic involved.

The Source Question topic is always a topic that you learned in Second Year.

The topics which appeared on Source Question in the last few years are as follows:

2017: The Reformation.

2016: From Farm to Factory: Industrial England

2015:The Age of Exploration.

2014: The Age of Revolutions.

2013: The Plantations.

2012: The Reformation.

2011: Rural Ireland (the Great Famine).

2010: The Age of Exploration.

Compared to other sections, there's a smaller range of topics that can come up.

The Source Question is usually divided into three parts. Part A will ask about one source, Part B will ask about another source, and Part C will test your knowledge of the topic in general by asking you to write an account of something related to it.

Answering a Source Question
  • Study the sources carefully 
  • Don't just glance at them. Read them very carefully before looking at the questions. Underline key points. Quote from the document if you're asked to, but keep your answers short. A 2-mark question requires just one piece of information.
  • Understand exactly what the question is asking you 
  • Your answer should only relate to the question and not include information you don't need - it doesn't matter if you write down something that's correct, if it has nothing to do with the question it still won't get any marks. For example, if you're asked to write an account of 'achievements of the Portuguese voyages of exploration', don't start talking about Spanish voyages. If you're asked to write about the Spanish conquest of either Mexico or Peru, choose one and write about that one only, you won't get marks for writing about them both.

  • Timekeeping:
  • The Source Question is worth 30 marks. Make sure you spend about 20-25 minutes on it. Keep an eye on the amount of marks going for each part (it changes every year). The more marks there are going for a question, the more relevant points you should write in your answer to that question. Remember that each relevant point is worth 2 marks. A 10-mark question would require at least 5 relevant points, but always have more just in case!

 Sample Source Question

An edited extract from Martin Luther's letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, 1517.

Papal indulgences for the building of St. Peter's are being distributed under your most distinguished name. I do not bring accusation against the preachers so much as I grieve over the wholly false impressions, which the people get from them - the unhappy souls believe that if they have purchased letters of indulgence they are sure of their salvation; they believe that so soon as they cast their contributions into the money-box, souls fly out of purgatory and there is no sin too great to be absolved (forgiven).


An edited extract from Exsurge Domine, the Papal Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520.

Alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many errors that are heretical, false, scandalous, and offensive to pious ears. We have therefore held a careful inquiry and we have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church. As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various meetings with our representative and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey to come without fear to talk openly and face to face. But he always refused to listen. Therefore:

We ask him earnestly that he and his supporters desist within sixty days, counting from the publication of this bull from preaching, from publishing books and pamphlets concerning some or all of their errors. Furthermore, all writings which contain some or all of his errors are to be burned. Furthermore, this Martin is to recant perpetually such errors and views. Or he should personally, with safe conduct, inform us of his recantation by coming to Rome. We would prefer this latter way in order that no doubt remain of his sincere obedience. If, however, this Martin and his supporters much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply, we shall condemn this Martin and his supporters as stubborn and public heretics.


A.   Sources A and B

1.   According to Source A, for what purpose were the papal indulgences being distributed? (2)

2.   What is Luther's objection to the papal indulgence? (2)

3.   What later action supposedly taken by Luther is shown in Source B? (2) 

B.   Source F

1.   What was the result of the Pope's inquiry? (2)

2.   Give two pieces of evidence to show that the Pope wished to deal kindly with Luther. (2)

3.   Mention two activities which Luther and his supporters must end within 60 days. (4)

4.   From your study of the Reformation, give two differences between the beliefs of a  
      named reformer and the beliefs of the Catholic Church. (4)


1.   Write an account of one of the following elements of the Catholic Counter-Reformation: (12)
              (a)   The Council of Trent.
              (b)   The Court of Inquisition.
              (c)   The Jesuits.