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Nearly 40% of Leaving Cert students have chosen not to sit the Irish exam this year

Students can choose between sitting exams, receiving accredited grades, or both.

A march celebrating Irish in 2018.
A march celebrating Irish in 2018.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

NEARLY TWO IN every five students registered to take Leaving Certificate Irish have chosen not to sit the exam this year.

Instead, the students will receive an accredited grade under the system put in place for the 2021 Leaving Certificate.

38% – 19,185 of 50,708 – have chosen not to sit the Irish exam and only receive an accredited grade, while 58% will both sit the exam and receive an accredited grade.

946 students, or 2%, will take the Irish exam and have turned down the option of an accredited grade.

The majority of students taking the Leaving Certificate this year have opted for a combination of sitting exams and receiving accredited grades across their subjects.

Of all subjects, Irish has the highest proportion of students choosing not to sit the exam.

Students taking the Leaving Cert this year can choose between sitting the exams, receiving calculated grades – now being called “accredited grades” – or both. 

The option that gives the the student the best outcome will be recorded on their results.

Oral exams and coursework are not included in the accredited grades.

The portal where students could indicate their choice was open between 10 and 16 March.

88% of Leaving Certificate students want to sit exams and receive accredited grades in one or more subjects, according to provisional figures from the State Examinations Commission.

Almost no students opted exclusively for exams – just 2% – while 5% opted for accredited grades and no exams. 5% did not complete the process of registered their choice. 

65% of Leaving Certificate Applied students opted to sit exams and receive accredited grades, while 24% have chosen accredited grades only. 1% want to only sit exams and 10% did not complete the process.

In total, 95% of candidates – 60,089 of 63,172 – made selections on the portal.

Around 2,000 students registered on the portal but did not finish the process of selecting their choice and another 1,000 did not register.

The SEC believes some of the students who did not register may have already withdrawn from the Leaving Certificate.

Other languages, including German, French, and Spanish, saw 27%, 26%, and 21% of their students respectively choosing to only receive an accredited grade.

In contrast, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting, and Biology each saw over 85% of students choose both options, positioning them as the subjects with the highest relative uptake of students opting for both exams and accredited grades.

In English, 78% of students are taking both options, 3% are only sitting the exam, and 16% will just receive an accredited grade.

80% of Mathematics students have indicated a preference for both, while 3% will sit the exam and 14% receive accredited grades exclusively.

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The remaining students in each subject did not select their choice.

The portal is due to open again around the start of May, when students will have the chance to change their decisions.

“Candidates may change the level at which they wish to sit the examinations or receive Accredited Grades,” the State Examinations Commission said.

“This is the final opportunity to indicate the level at which Accredited Grades will be awarded as after this date it will not be possible for either candidates or schools to change these levels,” the commission said.

“The Accredited Grades levels will be locked in and cannot be changed by either candidates or schools.”

This is because teachers “will have started to engage with the estimation process”.

“Candidates need to consider their choice of level in each subject very carefully – if a candidate selects a level higher than that which they have been studying they may receive an estimated mark lower than that which they were expecting from their school,” the commission has advised.

“Candidates who choose to sit the examinations will be allowed to change level on the day of the examination,” it said.

“In any subject where a candidate sits the examination and opts to receive Accredited Grades, they will be credited with the better of the two results.”

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