Oral and practical sections of Leaving


Sir, – The decision by the Department of Education to award full marks for oral and practical components of Leaving Certificate examinations is ill-judged at least and reckless at most. This move fails to recognise the “supply and demand” nature of university admissions in Ireland, and in awarding merit where merit is not due, CAO points will invariably rocket in August.

A far more prudent move would have been to hold these components of the examinations after the written sections in June. Given the global shutdown precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, candidates could hardly cite prospective summer holidays as an excuse otherwise.

God save all those awaiting university offers in August.

Spare a thought for those applicants not presenting this year’s Leaving Certificate, now at a fundamental disadvantage despite their academic efforts. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – Just as the measures debated in the Dáil on Thursday are extraordinary, so too is the announcement to cancel the oral and practical elements of this year’s Leaving exams. The decision to award full marks to students set to undertake the now defunct components of the exams is particularly extraordinary, and will have profound and far-reaching implications for both the students and the country’s third-level institutions.

One reason why this announcement is counter to students’ interests is that it may disproportionately benefit students taking subjects with a practical component over students whose subjects rely wholly on a written exam.

The effect of this is that the former will automatically receive between 20 and 50 per cent of their grade in those subjects, whereas the latter will receive nothing. Parity in grading must be observed if the integrity of any exam is to be protected.

Another effect of this announcement is that it may cause CAO points to rise to such an extent that they may be incomparable with 2019 points thus locking students out of their preferred college course. That is if third-level institutions do not increase intake across their various courses in an attempt to stabilise the points system. Will this now be necessary? Were third-level institutions consulted in advance of this announcement? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – The oral examination component makes up 40 per cent of the Leaving Certificate Irish examination.

Unless I am very much mistaken, this means that any student who bothers to turn up for the written part of the examination is guaranteed a pass.

In any event, good luck to each and every student. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.