Most Senior Cycle students choose the established Leaving Certificate programme. This 2-year programme covers a wide range of subjects.
Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level. Two subjects, Irish and Mathematics, can be studied at Foundation Level. Foundation Level is geared to the needs of students who might have difficulty with those subjects at Ordinary or Higher Level.
Students normally study 6 or 7 subjects during the Senior Cycle. If they are following the established Leaving Certificate programme they must take at least 5 subjects, including Irish.
In choosing Leaving Certificate subjects, students should take note of subjects that they may need for the third-level courses of their choice. For example, a student who hopes to get a place on a course at one of the universities that make up the National University of Ireland must meet a minimum entry requirement of 6 subjects, including English, Irish and a third language, 2 of which must be at Grade C on a Higher Level paper.
The school guidance counsellor will have the information about the subject requirements for each third-level course. About 12,500 students leave school each year without the Leaving Certificate. The legal school-leaving age is 16 years.
Leaving Certificate students may take the Junior Certificate programme in French, German, Spanish or Italian as part of their approved Senior Cycle course, if their schools offer this option.
The established Leaving Certificate is assessed through a written examination at the end of the 2-year programme. There are practical examinations and project work in certain subjects, such as Art, Construction Studies and Engineering. There are oral examinations in Irish and continental languages. The practical and oral tests take place during the final year of the programme. The written examination is held in June each year.
A new grading scheme for the Leaving Certificate will be introduced from 2017. The new scheme means that the Common Points Scale used by the CAO to determine entry into higher education institutions, has also been revised. You can read more on transition.ie.
Current marking system (2015/16)
|90% or over||A1|
|85% but less than 90%||A2|
|80% but less than 85%||B1|
|75% but less than 80%||B2|
|70% but less than 75%||B3|
|65% but less than 70%||C1|
|60% but less than 65%||C2|
|55% but less than 60%||C3|
|50% but less than 55%||D1|
|45% but less than 50%||D2|
|40% but less than 45%||D3|
|25% but less than 40%||E|
|10% but less than 25%||F|
|Less than 10%||No grade|
You may be asked for evidence that you have completed State examinations when you apply for a job or for further education. It is always useful to have a copy of your results as well as the original Certificate, especially if you plan to work or study outside Ireland.
The State Examinations Commission can provide you with a certified statement of your results - see 'How to apply' below.
Established Leaving Certificate examination fees for 2015 are:
|First-time entry (school-based or external) 3 or more subjects||€116|
|First-time entry (school-based or external) 1 or 2 subjects||€71|
|School-based repeat entry||€301|
External candidates repeating the Leaving Certificate in 2015 pay fees on a sliding scale as follows:
|No. of subjects||Fee per subject|
|3 or more subjects||€326|
There is a fee of €14.50 if you wish to obtain a copy of your Leaving Certificate results. This fee does not apply to the most recent sittings of the examination.
Applications received from non-school (external) applicants during the period 7 February to 28 February 2015 will be accepted on payment of a late fee of €32 per subject in addition to the normal fee. A second late application fee of €52 per subject will apply to applications made from 1 March to 30 April 2015. Entries for subjects with a practical, oral or project component will not be accepted after 6 February 2015.
If you are a post-primary school student, your details will be sent to the State Examinations Commission by your school. If you are an external (non-school) candidate for the established Leaving Certificate, you can apply online or on the application form available from the State Examinations Commission (SEC). The closing date for applications is 5 p.m. on 6 February 2015.
The written portion of the Leaving Certificate begins on 8 June 2016 and you can find the timetable for the written examinations (pdf) as well as the timetable for oral and practical examinations and submission of course work on the SEC website. Past Leaving Certificate examination papers and an information booklet for candidates (pdf) are also available on the SEC website.
To request a certified statement of examination results from the State Examinations Commission you can either apply online or download and complete an exam statement application form (pdf). Your application should specify the following personal details:
Paper application forms should be sent together with the fee of €14.50 (if applicable) to the State Examinations Commission at the address below.
Tel:(090) 644 2700
Fax:(090) 644 2744
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.