Leaving Cert 2022: More choice and fewer questions confirmed

Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert exams to commence on Wednesday, June 8th

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has released details of adjustments to the Leaving Cert exams aimed at easing pressure on students due to Covid-19 disruption.

In addition, it has confirmed that the Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert exams will commence, as planned, on Wednesday, June 8th.

The Leaving Cert will run until Tuesday, June 28th in order to accommodate new curricular subjects including Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese.

The SEC said the aim of the adjustments to the Leaving Cert are to “lessen the load, as far as is reasonably possible, for candidates both in their preparation for the written examinations and also on the day of the examination”.


The exams will be structured in a familiar way, but with more choice and a reduction in the number of questions to be answered.

For example, in maths students normally have 10 questions to answer. However, this year they will have six questions.

The level of choice and number of questions will be similar to last year’s written exams, which were also adjusted to take into account school closures and disrupted learning.

A subject-by-subject guide was published on the SEC's website on Tuesday evening.

The SEC’s has advised that all Leaving Cert candidates are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the adjustments.

It said the best guide to these extensive changes are the 2021 exam papers which are also available on the SEC’s website under its “examination material archive”.

The changes announced on Tuesday apply to the written exams only.

In the case of Irish and modern foreign languages, there is no change to the aural component, and there is likewise no change to the listening component in music.

There are also no further adjustments to practical coursework, orals and practical performance tests.

The SEC said the new adjustments aim to maintain the overall structure and layout of the examination paper so that the examination papers remain as familiar as possible to candidates.

This means that no new material has been added to the papers and, for the most part, no material removed.

The SEC said that, to the greatest extent possible, all amendments to the papers related to changes to the instructions on the examination paper.

In the case of Irish, it said no fair adjustment to paper one was feasible, so the adjustments have been confined to paper two.

Further choice

The adjustments, in almost all cases, provide further choice to candidates by reducing the number of questions to be answered in the examination.

While this will have the effect of also reducing the time needed to complete the examination, the duration of each examination will remain unchanged, thus substantively relieving time pressures.

It said it was important to note that there is no expectation that candidates would produce more extensive or more detailed answers because of this extra time.

“The relief of time pressure will allow for more time to read and consider the questions carefully, and will thereby help them to make best use of the additional levels of choice available,” it states.

The total mark for the examination paper in the majority of cases will be reduced and there may be a small redistribution of marks within examination papers as a result of the introduction of further choice.

However, in the case of subjects with more than one paper and subjects with practical coursework, oral, aural or listening tests, the relative weighting between the other components and the written paper will be retained.

This will be achieved by re-weighting the components as required during the grading process.

The SEC says it has recognised that the introduction of further choice and the reduction in the number of questions to be answered means that, in many cases, the exam no longer samples across the entire syllabus or subject specification.

In the case of some subjects, entire categories of skill may not be assessed at all for candidates who choose particular combinations of questions that would not be allowed in a normal year.

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