Leaving Certificate and calculated grades


The Leaving Certificate 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Students got a State Certificate of Calculated Grades in each leaving certificate subject. It has the same status as the Leaving Certificates awarded to students in previous years.

If you chose to sit the conventional written Leaving Certificate 2020 examination in November 2020, you can use your highest grade in a subject from either the State Certificate of Calculated Grades or the written Leaving Certificate 2020 when calculating your points for access to higher education. However, grades from the written exam will not be available in time for CAO and UCAS in the 2020/2021 academic year.

Applications to sit the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination closed on 7 October 2020. Read more about applying for the Leaving Certificate 2020 written examination.

Results of the Leaving Certificate calculated grades

Students can get their calculated grade results and their rank as set by their teacher through the Calculated Grades Student Portal.

On 30 September 2020, the Department of Educationannounced that errors were found in the Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grades process. As a result, incorrect grades were issued to around 6,500 students - see 'Calculated grade results error' below.

Calculated grades

Calculated grades are offered to students completing the following Leaving Certificate programmes:

What is a calculated grade?

A calculated grade is based on an estimated mark that you would get in that subject in the Leaving Certificate examination.

The Department of Educationhas stated that calculated grades will be generated using a systematic statistical model. This model will use estimates of a student’s expected performance combined with the school’s statistical profiles of achievement in a subject, in line with national performance standards over time.

There are a number of steps involved in getting to a calculated grade:

Step 1: Estimated marks and ranking by your teacher

Your teacher will give you an estimate of the mark you would likely have got if you sat the Leaving Certificate exam in normal conditions.

Your teacher will use a number of records of your performance and progress to get your estimated mark, for example; classwork and homework, class assessments, examinations in school at Christmas or summer, mock exams and also coursework.

When the oral and practical performance tests were cancelled, the Department of Education and Skills stated that all students would be awarded full marks for this portion of their exam. However, this will no longer apply. Teachers will now estimate your expected mark in the oral and practical performance tests.

Each subject will be given a single overall estimated percentage mark.

Your teacher then estimates class ranking of each student in order of predicted level of achievement for each subject.

Step 2: In-school alignment by subject teachers in school

Subject teachers in the school will then review the estimated marks and ranking of students in that school. Your teacher will finalise their estimated percentage marks and rankings following this alignment process.

If the school has only one teacher of the subject, the ranking review will be done with the deputy principal.

Step 3: Oversight of marks and rankings by the school principal

The school principal will review the marks and ranking data and assure themselves that the process has been fair.

The school principal will then send the final estimated marks and class rankings to the Department of Education

Step 4: National standardisation by Department of Education and Skills

The Department will then apply a standardisation process to ensure a consistent standard is applied across schools when judging the performance of students. On 1 September 2020, the Department confirmed that data on how a school has historically performed at Leaving Certificate will not be used in the standardisation model. It has also lessened the importance placed on historical national standards.

The estimated marks will be converted into the calculated grades and you will be given a State Certificate of Calculated Grades in each subject.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate students 2020 (pdf) explains how the system will work in more detail.

What if I have special education needs?

If you are a student with special educational needs, your teacher will base the estimate of your likely performance on the assumption that the reasonable accommodation would have been available to you.

Can I discuss my estimated mark with my teacher?

Since 11 May 2020, no additional work is accepted from students. The school principal, deputy principal, teachers or other members of the school staff must not discuss with any student, or with the parents or guardians of any student, the estimated marks that the school is submitting.

There are 2 reasons for this:

  • The estimated mark assigned by the school may not be the student’s final mark. It could be misleading for the student to get the estimated mark before the calculated grade process is complete
  • Allowing access to, and discussion of, estimated marks before the calculated grades process is complete would interfere with the process being carried out properly and fairly

If a student, parent or guardian persists in contacting a teacher or staff member about marking, the school must inform the Department of Education and Skills.

What if I had a new teacher?

If your class was taught by a substitute or recently appointed teacher who has not had enough time to get to know students and their level of achievement, your school can ask previous teachers for information.

If it is not possible to access a previous teacher, then another teacher or the principal will assist the new teacher.

What if I am a new student to the school?

If you are new to a school, your new school can contact your previous school for evidence of your work. Your new school should be able to provide estimated marks depending how long you have been at the school and the amount of evidence of work they have.

What if I am a repeat student?

If you are repeating in the same school, evidence from last year and the current year will be used. Particular weight will be given to your work and level of achievement in your repeat year. If you have a change of teacher your most recent teacher will consult with a previous teacher where possible.

What if I am an out-of-school learner?

You are an out-of-school learner if you studied a Leaving Certificate subject(s), but were not enrolled in a school.

If you are an out-school learner you can apply for a State Certificate of Calculated Grades.

If there is not enough evidence for an estimated mark, you can still sit the Leaving Certificate at a later date. For more information call 090 644 2776 or email lc2020learnersoutofschool@education.gov.ie

Leaving Certificate Calculated Grade results

Since 7 September 2020, you can access your Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades results using the online Calculated Grades Student Portal.

Since 28 September 2020, students can access their rank as set by their teacher through the portal.

CAO offers

Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades results will be treated by the CAO (and UCAS in the UK) in the same way as the results of any other year.

The issuing of Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades results will meet CAO and UCAS deadlines.

Calculated grade results error

On 30 September 2020, the Department of Educationannounced that errors were found in the Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grades process. As a result, incorrect grades were issued to around 6,500 students.

The Department contacted students and let them know if they had got a higher grade. No student had their grade reduced.

The Department sent the corrected results to the CAO. Any student who was entitled to a different CAO offer, got this offer or a deferred offer as soon as possible after the updating of results.

Read further information about Calculated Grades adn the Leaving Certificate.

Appealing your calculated grade

On 16 September 2020, the calculated grade appeal process closed. Students could appeal their results using the Calculated Grade Student Portal.

On Friday 16 October, the Department made available the results of the appeal process. A total of 18 students had a grade increased and were contacted directly by the Department.

The Department sent the updated grades to the CAO. Students who are eligible for a new offer will be contacted by the CAO.

The appeal process

The appeal process checked that your school data was correctly transferred to the Department and that it was correctly processed by the Department.

You can access your school’s estimated percentage marks and your final percentage calculated marks on the Portal. Students could not appeal the estimated percentage mark provided by their teacher.

If you are still unhappy at the end of the appeals process, you can get verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers.

If you have exhausted the appeals process and you remain unhappy, you have recourse to the Office of the Ombudsman or, if you are under 18 years of age, to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the calculated grades awarded or with the result of your appeal, you can choose to sit a written Leaving Certificate exam in the subject(s) in November 2020. If you achieve a higher grade in the written exam than in your calculated grade, your results for that subject will be amended.

If the higher grade means you would have been entitled to a higher offer of a CAO course, you will be facilitated in taking up that place as soon as practicable. However, it is not possible to guarantee that you will be able to take up a college course this year. You can find out more about how appeals will work with the timing of college courses.

Further information

You can find out more in the Department’s FAQs on the Leaving Certificate 2020 for students, parents and teachers and their detailed guide Leaving Certificate 2020: Your questions answered.

Page edited: 16 October 2020