Leaving Certificate

From Academic Kids

The Leaving Certificate Examination (commonly referred to as the Leaving Cert) is the final examination in the Irish secondary school system. Two years' study is required, and it is usually taken 3 years after the Junior Certificate Examination. Most students taking the examination are aged 17-19; in excess of eighty percent of this group undertake the exam, although between socio-economic groups this varies greatly. Examination is overseen by the State Examinations Commission.



There are three distinct programs that can be followed, and is continuously reformed to meet current social and economic needs, while each one is quite distinct in the case of its outcomes each of them are intended to reinforce the principals of secondary education, that is to prepare the student for education, society and work.

  • (Established) Leaving Certificate: The Established Leaving Certificate, introduced in 1924, is the most common programme taken. A minimum of five subjects is presented, most take six or seven. Except where exemptions are awarded for individual circumstances, the core subjects, English, Mathematics and Irish, must be taken as compulsory subjects.
  • Leaving Certificate Applied: The Leaving Certificate Applied, introduced in 1995, is taken to prepare the student for adult and working life. It consists of three elements these are General Education, Vocational Education and Vocational Preparation. It is designed to place on achievement and excellence which are not catered for by traditional academic programmes.
  • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme: The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, introduced in 1989, is similar to the established programme. The student takes two traditional subjects, a language and Link Modules. Designed to help the student find their potential for self-directed learning, innovation and enterprise.

Undergraduate admission

Republic of Ireland

School leavers who want to attend undergraduate courses in Irish colleges and universities have to enter the clearing house run by the Central Applications Office (CAO). Admission is based solely on examination results, usually from the Established Leaving Certificate. Six subjects are scored for the purposes of admission, each grade is translated into "points" - this can vary from 5 to 100 such points depending on the results thus a maximum of 600 can be obtained. Institutions can also set minimum grade requirements in specific examination subjects for each of their courses.

United Kingdom

Traditionally relatively large numbers of Irish students went to university in the United Kingdom, particularly in Northern Ireland and larger mainland cities - this has tailed off somewhat since the expansion of education. In recognition of this the Established Leaving Certificate underwent a process with UCAS to gain entry to the UCAS Tariff for direct entry to United Kingdom universities. This introduced the examination into the centralised system with other awards in the UCAS system. On June 8th, 2004 it was decided that a Leaving Certificate (higher) subject will be worth two-thirds of an A-level (UK). Increasingly students from the Republic of Ireland attend university in Northern Ireland, and indeed vice-versa. Early indications [1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/3794527.stm) seem to show that Irish higher education institutions will adjust their evaluation of the A-level in line with the report.

List of available subjects

Below are the list of subjects available to (Established) Leaving Certificate students, though most schools only offer a limited number.

  • Mandatory (exemptions granted in certain cases)
  1. English (must obtain a passing grade to obtain certificate)
  2. Mathematics (must obtain a passing grade to obtain certificate)
  3. Irish
  • Optional (2 more subjects must be picked other than the mandatory ones)
  1. French
  2. German
  3. Spanish
  4. Italian
  5. Arabic
  6. Home Economics, Social and Scientific Studies
  7. Geography
  8. Biology
  9. Business
  10. History
  11. Economic History
  12. Technical Drawing
  13. Art
  14. Physics
  15. Physics and Chemistry
  16. Chemistry
  17. Accounting
  18. Economics
  19. Japanese
  20. Russian
  21. Agricultural Economics
  22. Construction Studies
  23. Latin
  24. Classical Studies
  25. Music
  26. Religious Education
  27. Agricultural Science
  28. Applied Mathematics

International Reputation

Only one school outside of Ireland offers the Leaving Certificate exam to their students. Since 1997 students at the ISM international school in Tripoli, Libya take the leaving cert, with the exception of Arabic being substuted for Irish. The School's principal Donna McPhee said, "We have students from 52 countries studying at our school, the Irish Leaving Certificate programme offered us the kind of academic standard and subject spread that we were looking for. As a Canadian myself, I consider the Irish secondary education curriculum to be far superior to the Canadian, US or UK models." [2] (http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2005/0606/1782064868HM6EXAMLIBYA.html?digest=1)

See also

External links


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