‘Appalling’ pressure on Leaving Cert students facing three exams today

Timetable congestion means some students face almost nine hours of exams in one day

Dozens of Leaving Cert students are sitting three exams in one day - or almost nine hours in the exam hall - due to a timetable clash.

Dozens of Leaving Cert students are sitting three exams in one day - or almost nine hours in the exam hall - due to a timetable clash.

 

Dozens of Leaving Cert students are sitting three exams in one day - or almost nine hours in the exam hall - due to a timetable clash.

Some of those affected started exams at 9.30am today and will not finish until about 8 pm.

This is due to a clash in the afternoon between the new politics exam - which is being sat by almost 900 students - and design and communications graphics .

The State Examinations Commission said students affected will be provided with a supervised break at about 5pm between exams so they do not have any opportunity to access the exam paper taken by other candidates earlier in the day.

However, the move has been criticised by some teachers and parents who say it is unfair on students.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, said: “Three exams in one day is appalling. It amounts to enormous stress on students. If exams are to remain in the traditional two-and-half week timeframe, we should look at holding them on Saturdays.”

He added: “Alternatively. shorter exams should be examined. If a student has to sit three exams, they could be three one-and-a-half hour exams.

“We now have exams in English and history which last three hours and 20 minutes. This doesn’t even happen at second-level.”

Subjects shoe-horned

The broader issue of students facing three exams in a single day is due to a growing number exam subjects being shoe-horned into the two-and-a-half week period set aside for the Leaving Cert.

At present, some 35 subjects are on the curriculum. The addition of new exam subjects such as computer science, PE and Chinese over the coming years will put even more pressure on the system.

In a statement, the commission says it will explore alternative solutions with education partners to address the issue of timetable congestion.

In total, about 70 student face sitting three exams in a single day over the course of the exam timetable, according to the commission.

Today, a total of 16 Leaving Cert students are due to sit their politics exam in a special evening sitting due to subject clashes.

Some of these students –11 in total – will end up sitting three exams in a single day.

The commission said it has selected exam dates with a view to minimising subject clashes to the greatest degree possible.

“The timetable is framed to minimise subject clashes as much as possible but unfortunately some clashes will occur,” a spokesman said.

“In these cases a balance must be found between protecting the integrity of the examination, which entails inter alia all candidates nationally sitting their examinations at the same time, and allowing the candidate to have access to a state examination within the prescribed examination period.

“Appropriate arrangements are made, therefore, for the candidate to sit one of the subjects later on the evening of the day scheduled for that subject.”