Irish oral exam changes for trainee primary teachers

Move aims to streamline entry process for postgraduate programmes

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has welcomed moves to streamline oral Irish exams for teaching applicants. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Students seeking to gain entry to State-funded post-graduate primary teaching courses will be required to to pass a single oral Irish exam under new changes.

Until now, students had to complete separate Irish oral exams for the DCU, Maynooth University, Marino Institute of Education and Mary Immaculate College.

Each oral exam took place on the same day as the interview at each third level institution concerned. A fail in the Irish oral exam resulted the interview being discounted, a practice which added considerably to the stress on candidates.

From next year, however, there will be one Irish oral exam for all candidates, which will take place before students apply to their preferred institution.


The Irish oral exam will be administered by Maynooth University’s Centre for Irish language Research, Teaching and Testing. It is due to be held in February 2019 at venues throughout the country.

Candidates will then apply to their preferred institution and be called to interview by those institutions, in due course. There will be no further Irish oral examination.

Higher education institutions have advised that the oral Irish exam will cost €65 per candidate. However, students who enter via access programmes may be able to get refunds.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the changes will help streamline the application process for candidates.

“Alongside that, I believe that one standardised Irish oral will do a lot to help reduce anxiety and pressure and help prospective students give their best.”

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent