Wait is over for 120,000 Junior and Leaving Cert students as exams begin

Exams get under way in 5,000 test centres across the country

President Michael D Higgins, Government Ministers and education groups have wished students the best in the 2017 Junior and Leaving Cert as exams get under way for more than 120,000 students.

President Higgins sent his best wishes to all students starting their exams today.

“Today’s exams mark an important stage in thousands of young people’s education and those starting their exams today deserve all of our support, as do the teachers and families who assisted the students. Guím gach rath orthu don todhchaí.”

Minister for Education Richard Bruton emphasised that while the exams were important, they were just one pathway in education.


“A range of opportunities now exist which will help students to fulfil their ambitions,” he said. “In addition to higher and further education there are many alternative routes to rewarding careers now available.”

Mr Bruton also noted that the junior cycle English paper would be the first subject taken under reforms to the old Junior Cert. Students have already completed work accounting for 10 per cent of their marks in English.

Both the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams will get under way with English on Wednesday morning. In a break with previous years, English Paper 1 affords Leaving Cert students 20 minutes above the time traditionally allocated. The additional 20 minutes also applies to English Paper 2, Irish Papers 1&2, Geography andHistory.

About 5,000 superintendents involved in supervising the written exam received locked boxes containing the four million exam papers in recent days which will be used over the coming fortnight.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, said it was important that students keep things in perspective during this stressful period.

“The Leaving Cert is just one set of exams and although important, is a stepping stone to what you want in life,” he said.

“Being in the best possible mental and physical condition is key. Remain calm and focused: you’ve done all you can.

“Eat well, take regular breaks and understand that it’s completely normal to feel a certain level of anxiety. Allow extra time too in the morning to get to school early, as you don’t want to be rushed.”

John Halligan, Minister of State at the Department of Education, emphasised that family and friends were there to support students over the next few weeks.

“To parents, I would say reassure your child that the examination system is not designed to catch them out and that every question asked is something which they have covered with their teachers over the past two or three years,” he said.

“And remind them that there is a variety of course options open to all students which can ultimately bring them to their desired career area.”

The Irish Times will provide comprehensive coverage of the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams featuring student and teacher reaction to exam papers, Leaving Cert student diarists and more.