Leaving Certificate 2020


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.

This year students got a State Certificate of Calculated Grades in each subject. However, you can still choose to sit the Leaving Certificate written examination.

Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination

The Leaving Certificate 2020 exams run from Monday, 16 November 2020 to Friday, 11 December 2020.

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) exams run from Monday, 16 November 2020 and to Saturday, 28 November 2020.

An exam helpline runs from 16 November 2020 to 11 December 2020. It is open from 8.30am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9.30am to 5pm at weekends. You can call the helpline on Freephone 1800 111 135 or 1800 111 136.

Exam timetable

There will be one exam session on each weekday evening and 4 exam sessions at weekends (2 sessions on Saturday and 2 sessions on Sunday).

The exams are scheduled to start at 5.30pm each weekday evening, and at 9.30am and 2pm at weekends.

You can find the Leaving Certificate timetable (pdf), the Leaving Certificate Applied timetable (pdf), and more information about the exams on the State Examinations Commission (SEC) website.

Where will I sit the exam?

In general, students will sit their exam in the school where they had been entered to sit them in June 2020.

Some students with access arrangements under the RACE scheme may sit their exams in an individual or shared special examination centre for some or all of their examinations.

Students can find more detailed information about attending the examinations from the State Examinations Commission.

If you are sitting an exam, you will be given a declaration form (pdf) to complete and sign each day to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Give your completed form to the examination aide in the school.

College places

You can use your highest grade in a subject from either the State Certificate of Calculated Grades or the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination when calculating your points for access to higher education.

If you get a higher CAO offer as a result of your Leaving Certificate written examination, you will get a deferred college offer to start your course in the 2021-2022 academic year.

If you have already started the first year of a course and become entitled to a higher CAO offer following the written examination result, you will remain eligible for free fees and the student grant for the first year of the following academic year when you take up your higher offer.

Leaving Certificate subjects and assessment

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

Assessment and examinations

The Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination will be based on the normal question paper format, content and structure, and duration as in previous years. Candidates taking the November 2020 examination will be graded on the basis of their written papers.

Orals and practical exams in 2020

The oral and practical components are school-based and are not part of the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination. However, in the case of 5 Leaving Certificate subjects, the SEC will also mark coursework which had been completed before the school closures in March 2020 and these marks will be included in the grading of these subjects.

The 5 subjects are:

  • Home Economics practical coursework
  • LCVP Portfolio
  • Design and Communication Graphics practical coursework
  • Physical Education (PE) Physical Activity Project
  • Engineering practical coursework

In all other subjects, candidates will be awarded grades solely on the written papers.

Marking system for examination grades

The examination scale has 8 grades, the highest grade is Grade 1 and the lowest grade is Grade 8.

The 8-point grading scale replaced the 14-point scale at both Higher and Ordinary levels in 2017.

Marks between 100% and 30% are divided into seven grade bands (1-7). Each band is 10% wide.

The scheme means that the Common Points Scale used by the CAO to determine entry into higher education institutions, was also revised. You can read more on transition.ie.

Grading scale for Leaving Certificate from 2017
New grades* % Marks
H1/O1 90 - 100
H2/O2 80 < 90
H3/O3 70 < 80
H4/O4 60 < 70
H5/O5 50 < 60
H6/O6 40 < 50
H7/O7 30 <40
H8/O8 0 < 30

*Grades at Higher level are prefixed with H. Grades at Ordinary level are prefixed with O.

Marking system (2015/16)

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

Getting 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.

Leaving Certificate exam fees

There is no exam fee for the Leaving Certificate 2020.

The State Examinations Commission has refunded students who paid exam fees.

Read more about Leaving Certificate exam fees and COVID-19.

Leaving Certificate 2020-2021 examination fees will be published in early 2021 on the State Examinations Commission website.

How to apply

Applications to sit the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination and the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) closed on 7 October 2020. Read more about applying for the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination.

Further information

State Examinations Commission


Tel: (090) 644 2700
Fax: (090) 644 2744
Page edited: 16 November 2020