Q&A: Leaving Cert timetable changes: How will they affect you?

Dates set to move for up to a dozen subjects

Why is the Leaving Cert timetable changing?

The number of subjects has been growing in recent years, but the traditional two and a half week timetable has remained the same.

This congestion has led to some students having to sit three exams in a single day due to subject clashes, with exams starting at 9.30am and not finishing until close to 9pm at night.

As a result, next year’s Leaving Cert written exam timetable has been extended by two days beyond the traditional timeframe.


Exams will begin on Wednesday, June 5th and finish on Tuesday June 25th.

This should alleviate pressure on candidates by eliminating subject clashes as much as possible.

Does this mean no candidate will face three exams in one day?

No. While there will be fewer clashes, not all have been eliminated and there is still a possibility some candidates will have to sit three exams  in one day in 2019 or in a future year.

What new dates will exams take place on?

Next year the exams will take place over a 15-day period, commencing on 5th June and concluding on the 25th June. The exams scheduled for Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th June are:

Monday 24th June: Italian, Russian, Classical Studies, Latin and Technology

Tuesday 25th June: Politics & Society; Japanese; Arabic

So, these are the only exam changes?

No - the impact on the timetable is not just the addition of two days at the end. Creating the new timetable to minimise clashes has led to changes throughout. The full list of subjects impacted for next year is set out below:

Agricultural Science: June 17th (Monday, 2-4.30pm)

Accounting: June 19th (Wednesday, 2-5pm)

Design & Communication Graphics: June 20th (9.30-12.30pm)

Economics/Agricultural Economics: June 21st(Friday, 9.30-12 midday)

Italian: June 24th (Monday, 9.30-12.50pm)

Russian: June 24th (Monday, 9.30-12.50om)

Classical Studies/Latin: June 24th (Monday, 2-5pm)

Technology: June 24th (Monday, 2-4.30pm)

Arabic: June 25th (Tuesday, 9.30 - 12.30pm)

Japanese: June 25th (Tuesday, 9.30-12.50pm)

Politics and Society: June 25th (Tuesday, 9.30-12midday)

Will I still have time to change my course decisions using the CAO's 'change of mind' service?

This deadline for the CAO is July 1st. There is no indication at this stage that it will change, so there will be a tigher time-frame - five days instead of a week - to make up your mind on your course selections after the exams. Also, the changes mean the Hpat results are likely to be release at little later - Wednesday, June 26th - which also narrows the time availanle to change your mind.

Is there any hope of the system being reformed so students don't have to face into such a gruelling number of high-stakes exams?

The State’s advisory body on the curriciulum has started a review of senior cycle, but it’s only in its very early stages. It could take years before any changes are rolled out.

The first phase of its consultations include have heard from students and teachers that the Leaving Cert is causing stress, burnout and mental health problems among students.

What is the reaction from teachers to the move?

It has been very positive so far. The National Assoication of Principals and Deputy Principals says it is delighted by the change and that it is encouraged to see that a small step has been made in terms of wider necessary reforms.

I've already booked my Leaving Cert holidays with my class in Ayia Napa for the last week in June - what do I do now?

The extra two days of exams affect about 4,000 students or so - so you're certainly unfortunate to be affectged. It's best to check the terms and conditions of your booking. Failing that, maybe your travel operator will look kindly on you?

Full details of the Leaving Cert timetable for 2019 are available here: https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/EN-EX-18331764.pdf

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