The Junior Certificate examination is held at the end of the Junior Cycle in post-primary schools. The Junior Cycle caters for students aged from 12 to 15 years and students normally sit the exam at the age of 14 or 15, after 3 years of post-primary education. However, the Junior Certificate is not limited to post-primary school students.
A candidate following an approved course of study outside the State or who is attending an approved course of study organised under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme, adult literacy and community education schemes, the Back to Education scheme for the unemployed or a similar scheme, may also sit the exams. There is information about continuing education schemes elsewhere on this website.
Changes to the Junior Cycle
The Junior Certificate will be replaced with the Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA). There will be a school-work component to the assessment which will be based on work completed by the student during second and third year.
Students in second year will sit standardised tests in Maths and English reading (or Irish reading in Irish-medium schools). Standardised testing in Science will also be included. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is developing a new report card for parents which will give them much more information about their son or daughter’s learning progress. More information about the changes to the Junior Cycle is available on the Department of Education’s website.
Junior Certificate subjects
There is a wide range of subjects available, but all subjects are not offered in every school. The Department of Education and Skills publishes syllabus and curriculum information. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provides a list of Junior Certificate subjects.
All students must follow courses in Irish (except where exemptions apply), English, Mathematics and Civic, Social and Political Education. There may be other compulsory subjects, depending on the type of school. Examinations in a number of other EU languages are offered to students who meet certain criteria.
|85 or over||A|
|70 but less than 85||B|
|55 but less than 70||C|
|40 but less than 55||D|
|25 but less than 40||E|
|10 but less than 25||F|
|Less than 10||No Grade|
Subjects are normally studied at either ordinary or higher level, although Irish and mathematics can also be studied at foundation level.
New grading system
The examination grades for the new Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA) are as follows:
|90 or over||Distinction|
|75 but less than 90||Higher Merit|
|55 but less than 75||Merit|
|40 but less than 55||Achieved|
|20 but less than 40||Partially Achieved|
|Less than 20||Not Graded|
The JCSA grading system currently applies to English. It will be rolled out to other subjects as they come under the JCSA programme.
Both the current and new grading systems will appear on your Junior Certificate. This format will apply until 2021 when the last Junior Certificate subjects are expected to be examined.
Assessment and examinations
The Junior Certificate is assessed by means of a written examination at the end of the three-year programme, along with practical examinations and project work in some subjects and oral and aural examinations in Irish and continental languages.
The practical and oral examinations take place during the third year of the programme. The written examination takes place in June.
You can find the timetables for the Junior Certificate written examinations (pdf) and for the practical course work (pdf) as well as the Junior Certificate examination papers on the website of the State Examinations Commission.
Students sitting for the Junior Certificate must pay an examination fee. In early February of the exam year, the school sends parents who are paying the examination fee a form. The parent makes the payment through a bank and the bank must stamp the form. The parent then returns the form to the school.
Students whose parent or guardian holds a current medical card do not have to pay the fee. In the case of parents who have a current medical card, details of the medical card are put on the form and the parent then sends the form back to the school.
The examination fee for the Junior Certificate in 2018 is €109.
The examination fee for VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme) and similar students is as follows:
- Mix of Leaving Certificate/Junior Certificate subjects (3+) is €116
- Junior Certificate (3+ subjects) is €109
- 1 or 2 subjects - Leaving Certificate or Junior Certificate or mix of both is €71
How to apply
The State Examinations Commission manages and adminsters the State Certificate Examinations including the:
- Established Leaving Certificate
- Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme
- Leaving Certificate Applied
- Junior Certificate Examinations
Appealing your results: If you wish to appeal your examination results, you should apply through your school. The appeal fee is €32 per subject which is refunded if your result is upgraded.
To request a certified statement of examination results you can either apply in writing or download and complete the application form. Your application should specify the following personal details:
- Full name
- Name at the time of the examination (if different)
- Current address
- Daytime phone number
- Date of birth
- Year of examination
- Name and address of school attended
- Examination number (if known)
Forward your completed application form together with the appropriate fee to the State Examinations Commission.
Where to apply
State Examinations Commission
Tel:(090) 644 2700
Fax:(090) 644 2744