More than 2,500 students begin postponed Leaving Cert exams

Students with Covid-19 will not be able to sit written papers

Pat Burke, chair of the SEC, said he recognised ‘this year has been particularly difficult and stressful for Leaving Certificate candidates and their families’. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Pat Burke, chair of the SEC, said he recognised ‘this year has been particularly difficult and stressful for Leaving Certificate candidates and their families’. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

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More than 2,500 students who chose to sit the traditional written Leaving Certificate this year will begin their exams on Monday morning, with over half just sitting exams in one or two subjects.

In May the Government moved to postpone the State examinations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Education instead introduced a calculated grades system, where students received results based on estimated grades from their teachers, subject to a standardisation process.

Some 2,569 students have decided to still sit the traditional written exams, which will run until December 11th. This includes many who may have been disappointed with the calculated grades they were awarded in certain subjects.

Some 879 students are taking the written exam in just one subject, with 630 taking two subjects, and 449 students sitting exams in three subjects.

Eighty-eight students are sitting the written exams in seven subjects, with 24 students taking exams in eight or more subjects, according to the SEC.

Adult learners

About 200 students who were unable to receive calculated grades for certain subjects they studied outside of school are included in the cohort sitting the written examinations. A small number of adult learners who chose not to receive calculated grades are also among those taking the exams.

The State examinations will take place across 574 locations, primarily in classrooms due to the small numbers involved. Sixty adult learners and early school leavers will also sit the Junior Certificate exams from Monday.

Biology is the most popular subject students have opted to sit the written exam in, with 1,003 students taking this exam. This is followed by Mathematics (984), English (561), Chemistry (537) and Irish (427).

Some 874 students taking the exams are from Dublin, followed by 222 from Cork, and 156 from Galway. There is to be one exam each day on weekdays, and two exams on Saturdays and Sundays.

It is expected students will receive the results of their exams in early February. Any student who receives an improved CAO offer based on their new results will be able to take up their place in the college course in the autumn.

Covid-19

Any student who contracts Covid-19, or is self-isolating with symptoms, will not be permitted to sit the postponed Leaving Cert exams, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) has said.

Anyone restricting their movements after travelling into the country will also not be permitted to attend the exams.

However, the SEC has said in “certain limited circumstances” where a student is a close contact of a confirmed case, but does not have symptoms, accommodations may be made for the student to take the exams.

Individuals in this situation must give 24 hours’ notice, and the commission warned it may not always be possible to make alternative arrangements for the student to sit the exam.

Pat Burke, chair of the SEC, said he recognised “this year has been particularly difficult and stressful for Leaving Certificate candidates and their families”.

“The board and staff of the State Examinations Commission are very aware of the particular effort which candidates and their families have invested in the forthcoming examinations and extend our best wishes to all candidates,” he said.

Minister for Education Norma Foley wished the 2,569 Leaving Certificate and 60 Junior Cycle candidates well.

“This has been an unprecedented year and I would like to acknowledge the dedication shown by all of you during this challenging period.

“I know that this has been a long and arduous process for you and I hope that these exams go as well as you hope and are the culmination of all your extraordinary efforts,” she said.

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