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. The legal school-leaving age is 16 years.
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
A new grading scheme for the Leaving Certificate was introduced in 2017. The new scale has 8 grades, the highest grade is Grade 1 and the lowest grade is Grade 8.
The new 8-point grading scale replaces the 14-point scale at both Higher and Ordinary levels.
Marks between 100% to 30% are divided into seven grade bands (1-7). Each band is 10% wide.
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.
|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|
|H8/O8||0 < 30|
*Grades at Higher level are prefixed with H. Grades at Ordinary level are prefixed with O.
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|
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 2018 were:
|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 2018 paid fees on a sliding scale as follows:
|No. of subjects||Fee per subject in 2018|
|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 8 February to 28 February 2018 were accepted on payment of a late fee of €32 per subject in addition to the normal fee. A second late fee of €52 per subject in addition to the normal fee applied to applications made from 1 March to 27 April 2018. Entries for subjects with a practical, oral or project component were not accepted at this stage.
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 for the 2018 exams was midnight on 7 February 2018.
The written portion of the 2018 Leaving Certificate began on 6 June 2018 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