How other countries do it: international equivalents to the Leaving Cert

The types of final-year examinations pupils take at schools in France, the UK, Germany, Spain, the US and elsewhere

Students take the philosophy exam, the first test session of the 2016 Baccalaureate at the Fustel de Coulanges high school in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photograph: Getty Images

Students take the philosophy exam, the first test session of the 2016 Baccalaureate at the Fustel de Coulanges high school in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photograph: Getty Images

As school final-year examination systems go, the Leaving Certificate has sustained a reasonably good international reputation over the years for high academic standards. But it has also been criticised in more recent times, with many openly asking if this high-stakes exam represents the fairest or most satisfactory way of assessing our children’s abilities and aptitudes.

Much of this criticism stems from the fact that there is little in the way of continuous assessment, and that it disproportionately rewards those who are good at memorising and reproducing large chunks of a given course without really engaging with it, or that success owes as much to stamina as it does to intellect.

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