Leaving Cert 2022: More choice in exams but no plans for accredited grades

Department publishes subject-by-subject guide to assessment changes next year

There will be more choice in the Leaving Cert exams next summer but accredited grades are not on the agenda.

The Department of Education has published a subject-by-subject guide to assessment arrangements for the Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert.

The changes are designed to take account of disrupted learning experienced by students during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At Leaving Cert level, the changes broadly reflect a document published in December 2020, as had been expected.


Some additional choice will be incorporated into most written exams, but there will be no change to the duration.

In higher level English, for example, there will be no change to paper one, while there will be greater choice on section two (comparative studies).

As usual, students must answer a question on Shakespearean drama, while in section three (prescribed poetry) students will have the choice of answering one of five rather than four questions.

In the document, it says the adjustments “play to students’ strengths” by leaving intact the familiar overall structure of the exams.

In some cases, the adjustments involve more time for tuition by reducing preparatory work for practical exams and issuing coursework briefs at an earlier stage.

For example, in exams where the State Examinations Commission (SEC) issues project briefs during the 2021/2022 school year, the intention is to generally issue these at least four weeks earlier than normal.

Teachers are being encouraged to plan and undertake these projects as early as possible in the programme of study within the context of any current and future public health measures which may apply.

In the case of subjects where the coursework briefs issued in the last school year and have a completion date in the 2021/2022 school year, normal timelines for completion will apply.

Earlier this year, Minister for Education Norma Foley said there was no plan at that stage for calculated grades, which had been "an extraordinary measure" to allow for the loss of learning time in the classroom due to the pandemic, to be offered again.

However, Ms Foley also said nothing would be ruled in or ruled out and that it was a fluid, evolving situation.

At Junior Cycle level, as previously announced, each student must complete a minimum of one classroom-based assessment (CBA) in each subject and short course.

The latest date for completion of CBA1 for most subjects has been extended into the new school year.

In visual art, applied technology, engineering, graphics and wood technology, the deadline for completion of CBA1 was not extended, as CBA2 and project/ practical work in these subjects commences early in the new school year.

Students taking the Junior Cycle final exams in 2022 will not be required to complete assessment tasks for the relevant subjects.

The grade descriptor awarded for these subjects will be based on the examination paper only.

Specific arrangements have been also been put in place for music, visual art, home economics, wood technology, applied technology, engineering and graphics and are detailed in the subject-by-subject guide.

In addition there are assessment arrangements in Junior Cycle subjects being examined for the first time in 2022 which include technology subjects, Jewish studies, classics and religious education.

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