Exam body receives 10,000 appeals from Leaving Cert students

Highest number of requests were made in higher level English and in lower level maths

Sorting and despatching Leaving Cert exam scripts: the State Examinations Commission says 387,096 grades were awarded last year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Almost 10,000 Leaving Cert exam results were appealed to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) this year. It costs €40 to appeal one subject in the Leaving Certificate, though the fee is returned if the result is upgraded.

A total of 9,501 exam results were appealed, down from 9,800 last year.

Statistics released by the SEC show that 58,466 students sat the Leaving Cert this year, up 1 per cent on last year, when the figure was 57,931.

The highest number of appeals were made in higher level English with 1,511. This was followed by higher level biology (1,080) and higher level French (495). Higher level English is the most popular subject, with 36,577 students taking the paper this year.


Every year, students take a gamble on which poets will appear on the higher level English Paper Two.

Irish poet Paul Durcan appeared this year alongside Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop and TS Eliot, although some students had expected WB Yeats to appear as it was the 1916 centenary year.

Reacting to the paper in June, Jim Lusby, a teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said students were asked to cover too much detail in too short a time.

Ordinary level

In ordinary level subjects, the highest number of appeals were made for maths (431) and English (34). The lowest level of appeals were for ordinary level biology (11), ordinary level maths (11), higher level physics and chemistry (13).

Higher level Irish (730) had a higher level of appeals than ordinary level (38).

In 2015, almost 19 per cent of students were successful in appealing their results, with 1,836 upgrades, according to figures compiled by the State Examinations Commission.

Six candidates had their results downgraded in 2015.

The commission said these appeals represented just 0.5 per cent of the 387,096 grades awarded last year.

Based on figures for 2015, agricultural science provided the most upgrades (34 per cent), followed by Spanish, home economics (both 29 per cent), biology (27 per cent) and accounting and maths (both 23 per cent).

Among the subjects least likely to result in upgrades were construction studies (9 per cent), physics (10 per cent) and classical studies and business (both 11 per cent).