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File photo Leah Farrell/
cheat shot

71 students not given Leaving Cert results over fears they cheated in exams

Those suspected of cheating represent a tiny proportion of the 57,000 students who sat the exams this year.

SEVENTY-ONE STUDENTS who sat the Leaving Certificate this year have not been given their results over fears that they cheated.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) confirmed today that a total of 51 Leaving Certificate/Leaving Certificate Applied results have been permanently withheld this year.

“This includes full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC’s examinations regulations,” an SEC spokeswoman stated.

The decision to withhold a result or marks is open to appeal.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the SEC has also “provisionally withheld 20 other results, on a without-prejudice basis, pending further communication with the schools and candidates concerned”. 

The combined total of 71 results being withheld this year compares to 72 results being permanently withheld in relation to the 2018 exams.

Last year’s total was a sharp increase on the 57 results permanently withheld in 2017. These totals followed 100 results being withheld in 2016 and 101 in 2015.

Student appears more prone to cheating in the Leaving Cert than the Junior Cert – last year 35 Junior Cert results were permanently withheld amidst suspicion of cheating, up from 11 cases in 2017.

Those suspected of cheating in the Leaving Cert this year represent a tiny proportion of the some 57,000 students who sat the exams. 

At each exam centre for the Leaving Cert across the country, notices are placed in prominent locations warning students of the penalties for cheating.

Students are warned that they are liable to have their whole examination cancelled if they bring in the likes of iPods, MP3/4 Players or mobile phones into the exam hall.

‘Serious consequences’ 

Students are also warned that they risk having their exam cancelled if they aid or attempt to aid another candidate, or obtain or attempt to obtain aid from another candidate.

Candidates also face having their exam cancelled if they attempt to communicate with other students in the exam centre during the exam or by electronic means with people outside the centre.

The SEC spokeswoman said: “In the interest of being fair to all candidates, the SEC must be satisfied that marks awarded have been gained fairly and will investigate any suggestion, suspicion or allegation of cheating or other impropriety in relation to the examinations.

This is essential in order to uphold the integrity of the Irish State examinations system and to underpin equity and fairness within the system in order to enable all candidates to display their achievements on an equal footing.

“The SEC would strongly caution any student that might be tempted to cheat that serious consequences can result. They could lose marks or the full result in a subject; they could lose the results of the entire examination; or they could be debarred from entering for any of the State examinations for a specified period.”

The most common penalty applied is the withholding of the result in the subject in question. Where a more serious breach of the regulations occurs, such as copying in more than one subject, withholding of all results and/or debarring from repeating the examination may be applied.

According to the SEC, cases of suspected cheating can come to light in a number of ways including: an examiner may detect similar work from more than one candidate when correcting work from the same centre or an examiner may discover notes or paper brought in by a candidate in an attempt to gain an advantage in the examination.

Cheating can also be detected when an examination superintendent sees a candidate using prohibited items such as books or mobile phones, or attempting to contact another candidate in the centre.

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