Just 2,820 students apply to sit postponed Leaving Cert exams next month

Some 424 students whose Leaving Cert results were upgraded to receive CAO offers

A total of 2,820 students have applied to sit the postponed 2020 Leaving Cert exams which are due to be held next month.

This represents just under 5 per cent of the 61,000 candidates who were scheduled to sit the exams in June this year.

The postponed exams are due to take place during evenings and weekends a between November 16th and December 11th.

All students who had been due to sit the summer exams were given the option of receiving calculated grades and sitting Leaving Cert written exams at a later date when it was considered safe to do so.


Students who have received calculated grades and opt to sit the written exams will be credited with the higher of the two grades.

Students are being advised that the written exams will be based on the normal question paper format, content and structure as in previous years.

Separately, it is understood that 424 students whose Leaving Cert results were upgraded following errors in the calculated grades process are to receive new CAO offers on Thursday.

A total of 48 of these students had not previously received a CAO offer, while the remainder have either accepted or commenced other college programmes.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris and higher education institutions have been in talks over recent days to ensure all of these students will be able to take up these courses in the current academic year.

They include places in nursing, teaching, speech and language therapy and a single place in dentistry and another radiation therapy, according to sources.

These 424 students 7represent about 7 per cent of the 6,100 Leaving Cert students whose results were upgraded on foot of coding errors discovered in the past fortnight.

The new offers are to be issued online at 10am on Thursday and the additional college places will be spread across higher education institutions.

The Leaving Cert exams, meanwhile, will take the form of written papers only. Marks will not be available for oral language or music performance tests on the basis that it would “not be feasible or practical” to conduct exams in these components, according to the Department of Education.

However, in the case of five subjects, examiners will mark coursework which was completed prior to school closure. These marks will be included in the grading of these subjects.

These subjects include home economics; design and communication graphics; physical education; engineering; and the LCVP (Leaving Cert vocational) programme) portfolio.

In addition, Junior Cycle exams for adult learners and early school leavers will also commence next month. The exams are also due to be scheduled for evenings and at weekends.

On the decision not to conduct exams in oral or practical components, or to try to complete unfinished coursework, Minister for Education Norma Foley has said this was based on the fact that these were school-based.

Completing them would require significant levels of support at school level - including the requirement to take serving teachers out of their schools - meant

Ms Foley said an earlier decision last March to award full marks in respect of oral language and music performance tests was cancelled when the system of calculated grades was introduced in May.

“Candidates are not being automatically awarded full marks in respect of any examination component in the calculated grades system,” according to a Department of Education statement.

“Accordingly, it would not be appropriate or fair to now award full marks for some examination components in the interest of inter-candidate equity between those sitting a later examination and those receiving a calculated grade.”

While Junior Cycle exams were cancelled and replaced with in-school assessments, written exams will be made available for adult learners and early school leavers in November 2020.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent