Leaving and junior cert exams begin


Over 116,00 students this morning began the Leaving and Junior Cert exams with the State Exams Commission(SEC) determined to avoid any repetition of last year’s security blunder.

Paper 2 in higher level English had to be rescheduled for a Saturday last June after an exam superintendent in Drogheda, Co Louth distributed the wrong paper. The error cost the taxpayer over €1million.

This year, the SEC has introduced a superintendent partnering system for the validation of exam paper packets before each examination session begins. It has also provided additional training and distributed a set of “golden rules ’’ for each superintendent.

The number taking the Leaving Cert this year (over 55,783) is at its highest for several years, reflecting the increase in population.

Other main features of the exam this year include :

- For the first time, 1,800 students will sit the new more “user friendly’’ Project Maths course next week. The new course will be rolled out in every school over the next three years;

- The percentage of students taking the Leaving Certificate Irish exam is at its lowest level since records began. Only 82 per cent of Leaving Certs are taking the subject, compared with 90 per cent almost a decade ago. In previous decades, virtually every Leaving Cert student took Irish.

- Exams in 90 curricular subjects will take place in 4,700 exam centres across the country.

As well as the curricular subjects, native speakers from across the EU will sit exams in their mother tongue at Leaving Certificate level in 15 non-curricular languages including Polish, Czech, Romanian and Hungarian.

The exams are a huge logistical task. The 4,700 superintendents - involved in supervising the written examinations- will take possession of boxes containing three million examination papers over the 13-day examination period.

Almost 4,000 examiners will be involved in examining the work presented by candidates in the written examinations. This is in addition to the some 2,000 examiners required to mark the oral and practical tests.

The examinations run until Thursday June 24th for Junior Certificate subjects and Friday June 25th for Leaving Certificate subjects.

The results of the Leaving Certificate examinations will be available on Wednesday, August 18th 2010. Results of the Junior Certificate will be available in mid-September 2010.

Last night, Minister for Education Mary Coughlan TD, wished students every success and the best of luck .

She said the State exams can be very stressful for students, and that she wished to acknowledge the great support that students receive at this time from their teachers, parents, families and friends.

The Tánaiste said 'While the State exams are an important milestone in your lives, I hope that you will keep the exams in perspective and bear in mind that there are many opportunities for you to continue your education after the Leaving Certificate.'

Her advice to students is to stay calm and focused over the coming 13 days of the State exams this year.