Will I be able to pick and mix my predicted grades with Leaving Cert results?

Ask Brian: The good news is the class of 2020 will have lots of options to make the grade

I’m a Leaving Cert student and due to receive my calculated grades in August. If I ’m unhappy with some of the results and end up sitting the Leaving Cert exams, will I be able to choose the best combination of results that gives me the most points?

As you say, the Department of Education is due to issue "calculated" grades to students in August. The CAO, as usual, will offer places on programmes to students shortly afterwards.

If you’re happy with the college offer you receive in round one, you can accept it and start your course in September. The nature of how that course will be delivered will depend on public health considerations.

If you are unhappy with the grade you received in any subject, you can appeal it. Be mindful, though, that the appeal process will not examine the accuracy of the teacher’s or school’s judgement involved in awarding your grade. Rather, it will simply check the accuracy of the data inputted.


The department has indicated that work is ongoing with the higher education colleges to ensure anyone who gets an upgrade on foot of such an appeal like this will be able to start college in the coming academic year.

(Incidentally, if a student is still unhappy, there is the final independent scrutineer stage. If a student is successful at this stage and receives an improved CAO, they will have to receive a deferred offer to start their course in the 2021/22 academic year.)

Students will also have the option of sitting the Leaving Cert exams when it is safe to do so. No one knows for sure when this will be.

Students will have the option of choosing a combination of their best grades whether through calculated grades or the written exams.

However, if a student qualified for an improved CAO offer on the back of Leaving Cert results, they will only be able to receive a deferred college offer to start their course in the 2021/22 academic year.

Incidentally, if a candidate who has already started the first year of a course and then becomes entitled to a higher CAO offer on foot of their Leaving Cert results, they may take this offer up in the following academic year.

They would be financially penalised and would pay the regular student registration charge (€3,000) and would still receive Susi grants, where eligible.

Another point worth noting: all of the results issued on foot of the calculated grades or appeals and the later exam sittings will be considered the results of the 2020 Leaving Cert and can be used in 2021 or in any subsequent year to apply for courses through the CAO application process.

This is very different to the normal regulations regarding CAO entry, where applicants can only be considered for entry to any course on the basis of the results secured in one sitting of the Leaving Cert