Surge in Leaving Cert students appealing grades

Number hits record high amid greater awareness and online access to exam scripts

Over 9,000 students appealed some 17,000 Leaving Cert grades this year, the highest number on record. File photograph: Getty

Over 9,000 students appealed some 17,000 Leaving Cert grades this year, the highest number on record. File photograph: Getty

 

The number of Leaving Cert students seeking rechecks of their marks has surged by 75 per cent, prompting the State Examinations Commission to reassure those appealing that it plans to issue their results on time.

More than 9,000 students – or 16 per cent of all candidates – appealed some 17,000 Leaving Cert grades this year, the highest number on record.

The increase is linked to changes aimed at speeding up the appeals process which followed a High Court case taken last year by student Rebecca Carter.

Ms Carter, whose marks in a Leaving Cert exam were wrongly totted up, sued the commission over its decision not to recheck her points score in time to allow her obtain a place on a veterinary medicine course at UCD. She later took up a place on the course following the ruling.

The changes meant students have been permitted to view and appeal exam papers online for the first time. In addition, candidates were provided with marks they achieved for individual components in subjects, such as oral exams, at an earlier stage.

For some subjects, the year-on-year increase in appeals was particularly dramatic. The spike was greatest for design and communication graphics (up 187 per cent), engineering (165 per cent), biology (151 per cent) and accounting (143 per cent).

The subjects which attracted the greatest number of appeals include higher-level biology (2,092 appeals), Irish (1,933) and English (1,925).

Faster turnaround

In previous years, about one-in-five exam papers have been upgraded following appeal.

While the commission has been struggling to hire enough teachers to correct scripts in recent years, it said this was not an issue of concern for the appeals process. While the level of growth was greater than anticipated, it said it had “further adapted its plans” in response to the increased numbers of appeals.

It added that the “planned issue date for appeals for the week beginning 16th September will be achieved”, meaning candidates will receive their results three weeks earlier than usual.

The faster time frame is aimed at enabling students take up their preferred course in the event they qualify for it after an upgrade.

In Ms Carter’s case, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said the system was highly unfair to students and could not be repeated.