Leaving Cert results withheld over suspected cheating

State Examination Commission says 38 students had their marks held back last week

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The State Examination Commission (SEC) has withheld the Leaving Cert results of 38 students this year amid suspicions of cheating.

Information released to The Irish Times by the commission indicated 38 students who sat the exam did not receive their results last week.

In addition, some other students did not receive the results of all papers they sat. The SEC said 34 results from various exam papers were also being “provisionally” held back pending further communication with the schools and students concerned.


“A total of 38 Leaving Certificate results have been permanently withheld at the 2017 Leaving Certificate. This includes full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC’s examinations regulations,” an SEC spokesman confirmed.

In order to protect the privacy of the students, the SEC declined to reveal the subjects, papers or exam centres where pupils were suspected of cheating.

A total of 118 Leaving and Junior Cert results were withheld in 2016. These included students whose full result was withheld, or those who had some marks withheld, as a result of being found to be in breach of the SEC’s examinations regulations. One hundred of the 118 were in respect of the Leaving Cert, and 18 in respect of the Junior Cert.

More tempting

The rise of smartphones and social media has made cheating more tempting for students in state examinations, according to a source within the SEC.

“Over the past number of years we have seen an increase in the amount of students being caught cheating by using their smartphones. Some students have notes saved on their phones and try to use this as an aid during the exams. Some have been caught taking smart phones from their socks during examinations,” the SEC source told The Irish Times.

The SEC states that cases of cheating can be highlighted in a number of ways, such as examiners also detecting similar work from more than one candidate while correcting work from the same centre.

Other incidents in the past have included when marking an examination script, examiners have discovered notes or paper brought in by a candidate in an attempt to gain an advantage in the examination. When incidences like this occur, the superintendent must submit a report to the SEC.

The SEC said every effort is made by it to investigate prior to full examination results being withheld, but this is not always possible.

“A candidate is liable to have his/her whole examination cancelled or be debarred from entering for any of the State examinations if they bring into the examination hall any books, notes, papers, mobile phone, electronic address book, data bank, other than the examination paper or answer books supplied to them by the superintendent,” the SEC spokesman said.

Electronic means

Students may also have their results withheld if they attempt to communicate in any way with other students within the centre, or by electronic means with a person outside the centre.

“In the interest of being fair to all candidates, the SEC must be satisfied that marks awarded have been gained fairly and will investigate any suggestion, suspicion or allegation of cheating or other impropriety in relation to the examinations.

“The most common penalty applied is the withholding of the result in the subject in question, and where a more serious breach of the regulations occurs such as copying in more than one subject, withholding of all results and/or debarring from repeating the examination may be applied,” added the SEC spokesman.