Leaving Cert 2017: 13 students secure highest marks

Number of high achievers increases significantly over last year

Thirteen Leaving Cert students have scored the highest marks with top grades in eight subjects.

Latest figures from the State Examinations Commission show the overall number of high achievers has increased significantly compared to last year.

While no one managed to secure the highest marks in nine subjects, 13 high achievers secured grade ones (between 90 and 100 per cent) in eight subjects. A total of seven students managed the same feat last year.

A total of 63 pupils scored grade ones in seven subjects, up from 47 students last year.


Some 193 candidates scored grade ones in six subjects, up from 163 last year, while the numbers who secured grade ones in five subjects climbed to 415 this year, up from 382 last year.

A total of 815 students scored grade ones in four subjects, up from 762 last year, while some 1,530 students scored grade ones in three subjects (up from 1,368 last year).

The total who scored grade ones in two subjects reached 2,793 (up from 2,596 last year).

The number who secured a single grade one this year was 6,694 , up slightly from 6,367 last year.

The upward trends are likely to spark accusations that the system has been “dumbed down” with the introduction of a new grading system.

However, the State Examinations Commission insists there has been no change in the exam standards of the Leaving Cert.

Rather, it says the change relates to how candidates’ results are reported to them through the new grading system.

This grading system, which awards grades from one to eight, is a shift away from the old system which had 15 grades, which ran from A1 down to F and NG.

One of the biggest changes is that it allows pupils to secure points for college applications if they achieve between 30 and 39 per cent in higher level papers.

The impact of the changes has been dramatic, with failure rates for key Leaving Cert subjects at higher level dropping by about half.

In addition, the number of students opting for higher level papers across all subjects has climbed to a new high.

However, there has been a marked increase in the failure rate in ordinary level papers, especially in English and Irish.

Commentators say some of this increases is likely to be linked to a higher concentration of weaker students at ordinary level, given the increased numbers taking on higher level papers.

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