Over 120,000 students to sit Junior and Leaving Cert exams
Two additional days have been added to the timetable to minimise exam clashes
The proportion of Leaving Cert students taking on higher-level subjects looks set to match last year’s record numbers.
Some 124,000 students are due to begin this year’s State exams on Wednesday,
Two additional days have been added to the exam timetable in order to minimise exam clashes, which means the Leaving Cert will extend into the final week of June for the first time.
In addition, Leaving Cert students who suffer a bereavement of a close relative during the exams will be able to defer their papers for up to three days, with alternative papers taking place in July.
The exams get underway at 9.30 am on Wednesday when Junior and Leaving Cert students will sit English exams.
In the afternoon Leaving Cert students will face home economics, while Junior Cert students are due to sit civics, social and political education (CSPE).
In all, more than four million exam papers have been securely distributed to those involved in supervising the written exams.
The proportion of Leaving Cert students taking on higher-level subjects, meanwhile, appears to have matched last year’s record numbers.
This is a sign that pupils are trying to make the most from recent changes to the CAO points system which reward students for what used to be E grades, or fails.
Among Leaving Cert maths candidates, 38 per cent have registered at higher level to sit the more challenging paper, up from about 20 per cent in 2011.
The increase follows the introduction of bonus points for higher-level maths in recent years, along with wider changes to the CAO points system.
There is also a high proportion of students who have applied to sit higher-level exams in the Leaving Cert for many other subjects.
For example, half of students have opted for higher-level Irish – on par with last year’s record – while three-quarters of those sitting English have opted to take on the more challenging paper.
Meanwhile, students are being urged to mind their mental health during the exam period. Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said that while stress is normal it is important not to let anxiety take over.
“While you should be working hard, you shouldn’t be pushing yourself to the edge of a nervous breakdown. You need to be calm and collected on the day,” he said.
“You won’t be productive if you study for 12 hours straight, locked away like a monk in a cell. Take regular breaks and reward your work by doing something that you enjoy. Listen to music, go for a walk, and talk to your friends and family.”
There are more study options and career paths than ever for students, he added, which should ease some of the anxiety facing students.
“The Leaving Certificate marks the end of one chapter and the start of another, whether in third-level education, an apprenticeship or the workforce,” he said.
“The experience of studying for, and completing the Leaving Certificate, will provide students with a specific set of skills that are completely transferable and applicable to whatever they decide to do next.”
Mr Byrne said that for those seeking to go on to third level, pupils will have the opportunity to add, remove or re-order their course choices before 5.15pm on July 1st.
Anyone who is feeling overwhelmed because of exam pressure can contact Samaritans for free from any phone on 116 123. Alternatively, they can text 087 260 90 90, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online (samaritans.org) to talk to a trained volunteer.