Leaving Cert Helpdesk: 'I didn’t get the results I hoped for, what are my options?'

Day 2: The following is a selection of questions asked of our guidance counsellors.

The Irish Times’ free online helpdesk is receiving questions from teenagers and their parents over what implications the 2019 Leaving Cert results might have for them.

On the second day of questions from students and parents, topics ranged from queries about viewing scripts to the Hpat to the Susi grant. Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett, both members of the Institute of Guidance Councillors (IGC), are replying to queries.

Can I view my scripts and decide not to get them rechecked or do I have to get them rechecked if I decide to view them?

You make the decision on whether to apply for an appeal or not. Viewing of scripts is free of charge. The decision is then yours. Applying for an appeal costs €40. This is refundable if the appeal is successful. For more on what you should do if you are unhappy with your results, read here.


I didn’t take 6th year seriously enough and I feel I undershot my potential. My dream course is Biomedical Science in NUIG which I missed by 60 points. Should I repeat sixth year or are there any other options (my other CAO choices are science related courses).

I would advise you to look very closely at the modules you would be studying on the course you get offered tomorrow. Liking the modules of study should be a good indicator as to whether you would like the course or not. College representatives are more than happy to answer any queries from potential students also.

I want to study medicine, but I didn’t get the results I hoped for, do I have any other options?

Have you thought of applying to colleges outside of Ireland or have you researched graduate entry routes into medicine? A lot of information can be found under student resources on cao.ie Some people complete a masters in Biomedical Science after completing a science, engineering or biological/biomedical degrees. You could look at this option also. The above degrees are just examples. If you are disappointed with your results, you have plenty of options - for more read here.

I received 59.25 per cent in French, 69.25 per cent Biology, 79.5 per cent Music, and 79.75 per cent in LCVP. I thought that the examiners would mark up in situations like this. Is that correct? I am asking for a recheck of all these subjects-what are the statistics of the Department increasing a grade by 0.5 per cent or less than half a percentage point.

Last year 9,087 grades were appealed. This led to 1,453 upgrades. There were only five downgrades. The SEC derive grades from marks not percentages. So, for example, while a mark of 539 out of 600 in an examination is worth 89.83 per cent when expressed as a percentage, the grade is based on the marks which equate to a grade two. Therefore, rounding up to the next grade band does not arise.

I am hoping to study business in DIT in September. I was wondering, how accurate and factual is the article in The Irish Times regarding the “percentage change on the demand by course category” for level 8 CAO courses? It shows that some courses have a point decrease of 4 per cent and others increased by 9 per cent in the list of business courses.

Those statistics refer to demand. Other factors such as the number of places on the course as well as points gained by interested candidates affect the points for all courses. An increase in demand is only one part of the puzzle. No one will know for definite until 2pm on Thursday, August 15th.

If I decide to defer my college place and the points for my course increase next year do I still get my place?

Yes providing that you re-apply through CAO next year and pay the correct fee. You will have to complete the application form in full. You must then place the deferred course as your first and only preference on the application form. Then indicate your deferral by ticking the deferred application indicator box in the course choice section on your application. You will breach the conditions of your deferred place if you enter more than the single deferred course code on your new application. In that event you will forfeit the guaranteed place and enter the competition for places in the normal way.

I see that UCD has the lowest points for HEAR and DARE applicants on their wesbsite does Trinity do this, specifically for Law?

Trinity offers seven places on their Law programme to DARE applicants. Trinity College Dublin reserves 25 per cent of places on every course for students with disabilities (DARE), students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (HEAR), and Mature students. On courses with a quota of more than 40 places, approximately 8 per cent are DARE places, on smaller courses there may be only one or two places. Applicants should note that DARE eligibility provides an opportunity to compete for such places it does not guarantee or entitle them to an offer of a place on reduced points.

More information on DARE is available from the Disability Office at TCD. Information can also be found on: accesscollege.ie; and cao.ie.

Can I check my higher level biology results online while I am away?

Biology was marked online and can be viewed online. This can be done by you while you are away. You will be given an opportunity to complete the AP1 online form and apply for an appeal.

I won’t be in the country at the time of the viewing of scripts, would I be able to send someone on my behalf ?

I am afraid not. The candidate must be present for viewing and no other person may view on their behalf.

The course I was hoping for accepts 5 passes and foundation Maths at F2 level. I got an F3. I got well over the 5 passes in other subjects but only an F3 in Maths. If I repeat my Leaving Cert will I have to repeat the entire Leaving Cert or could I do a course and just repeat maths.

You can just repeat one subject (Maths) and the result from this subject can be used to satisfy entry requirements only. I would advise you to look at PLCs also. This qualification can be used as a scenic route into third level.

If I defer my course, will I still need to complete SUSI application or begin a new application next year?

Yes. You must apply again next year and you will be assessed on income from all sources for the calendar year January 1st to December 31st, 2019.

The course I want requires a H4 in Irish and German. I’m fine for Irish, and think I’m safe points-wise, but missed out on the German grade by 0.5 per cent. What are my options?

Unfortunately, you will not be offered the course if you have not met the entry requirements. In the first instance I would apply to view the paper and get a sense if there is room for an upgrade and if so apply for a recheck. If you get an upgrade you will be fine. You could take a gap year and just repeat German to get the required grade in German and combine your two Leaving Certificates to meet the entry requirements of the course. You could also start another course you may be offered if you don’t want to take a gap year and while pursuing this course repeat your German and reapply for the course you really wanted next year if you still want it.

I have been thinking of doing medicine for the last year but was steered away from it by my careers teacher. I ended up not applying for it this year and regret it as I got 625. I currently have data science in UCC as my first choice. My plan is to do this course and perhaps post grad medicine if I want to do it in four years time. Is this a good idea or should I be taking the year out to evaluate my options.

Allocation of places for medicine will be determined on the basis of a combination of the Leaving Certificate and HPAT-Ireland scores. Before the scores are combined, Leaving Certificate Examination points above 550 will be moderated. You can find out a lot of information on entry to medicine and graduate medicine on cao.ie under student resources. You could sit the HPAT next year if you wish whilst pursuing data science. This will give you time to see how you enjoy studying data science. Be careful with regard to fees though. You will be charged tuition fees if and when you do first year in college twice even if it's in a different discipline.

* Some of these questions have been edited for publication