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Established Leaving Certificate


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 subjects

The Department of Education and Skills publishes syllabus and curriculum information. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provides a list of Leaving Certificate subjects.

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.

Assessment and examinations

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.

Marking system for examination grades

Percentage Range Grade
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

Obtaining a copy of your Leaving Certificate results

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
1 subject €116
2 subjects €211
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.

Penalties for late applications

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.

How to apply

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 3 June 2015 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.

Applying for a copy of your exam results

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:

  • Full name of the candidate
  • Name at the time of the examination (if different)
  • Current address
  • Day-time telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Year of examination
  • Name and address of school attended
  • Examination number (if known)

Paper application forms should be sent together with the fee of €14.50 (if applicable) to the State Examinations Commission at the address below.

Where to apply

State Examinations Commission


Tel:(090) 644 2700
Fax:(090) 644 2744

Page updated: 12 January 2015



Related Documents

  • Junior Certificate
    The Junior Certificate examination is held at the end of the three-year Junior Cycle in second-level schools.
  • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme
    Ireland's Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) is a senior cycle programme designed to give a strong vocational dimension to the Established Leaving Certificate.
  • Leaving Certificate Applied
    The Leaving Certificate Applied is a two-year, self-contained programme aimed at recognising the talents of all students and providing opportunities to prepare for working and adult life.

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