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Aishling Butler
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Reflections on repeating the Leaving Cert

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Reflections on repeating the Leaving Cert

Friday, August 18, 2017 

Reflections on repeating the Leaving Cert

Disappointed with your results? Considering repeating your Leaving Cert? In this article, we consider the choices available to students who are looking at repeating and offer some reflections to help with the decision.

If your main goal in the Leaving Cert was to achieve the grades and points required to get into a particular college course, it can be really frustrating and disappointing not achieve the results you needed or hoped for. Repeating the Leaving Cert is often the first option considered, and sometimes the only option looked at.

Repeating is not always the best choice or the right choice. It is also not the only choice available. In fact, repeating the Leaving Cert has become a less popular choice in recent years, given the range of alternative entry routes to college, as well as the other options available. So how do you make the decision? There are a few steps worth taking.

Reflect - Where did I go wrong the first time around?

A good starting point is to work out where you went wrong this time around. Take some quiet time to think about it. Ask yourself such questions as:

  • Could I have done any better?
  • What stopped me from getting the results I wanted/needed?
  • Were there circumstances beyond my control?
  • Will it be any different next year?
  • Am I likely to slide into the same old habits again?

Fact: It is possible to do much better in the Leaving Cert the second time round!

Fact: It is possible not to achieve results that are better than the first time around!

You are not necessarily going to do any better just by repeating the year - it is really important to be aware where you went wrong this time around, and figure what you need to do differently in order to do better. It is then necessary to commit to doing things differently if you want to achieve a better outcome.  

On a positive note, if you got 400 points in your Leaving Cert this year, and you repeat and only get 380 points next year, the CAO will accept the highest points achieved in one sitting. So for this reason, you are not going to lose. You won’t go down in points, but you can potentially go up!


Subjects: Some subjects have different course work each year. In English or Irish, for example - the skills you are required to develop remain the same, but the curriculum texts change. Subjects may also have changes in the prescribed exam material from year to year i.e. music and history. It is worth being aware that plans to reuse your notes and resources from the previous year may have to be scrapped.

ReadDo I need to repeat all subjects? 

Where to repeat: If repeating is the best option for you, the next consideration is where to repeat. Returning to your old school may or may not be an option - it may be at the discretion of the school principal.

On the plus side, repeating at your old school has the benefit of being a familiar environment, usually close to home, and there will be teachers who know and understand you.

On the downside, schools do not generally have a dedicated repeat class so you will be studying alongside others who are studying for the Leaving Cert for the first time. This in itself can create a new set of challenges.

Some second-level schools have dedicated repeat classes. Some Further Education colleges offer a repeat Leaving Cert year. The latter has the advantage of allowing students to move to a college environment while studying the Leaving Cert course. 

There are also dedicated grind schools, which have a strong track record in helping repeat students to improve their results. This tends to be the most expensive option.

A list of schools and colleges hosting repeat Leaving Cert can be found here.

The Cost of Repeating

Private repeat centres can be expensive. The Institute of Education in Leeson Street, Dublin charge €7,150. Ashfield College costs €6,495 [2017/18].

Prices around the country are similar: Bruce College in Cork – €7,150; Hewitt College, Cork – €6,950; Limerick Tutorial College – €6,400; Yeats College in Galway and Waterford – €6,600.

Choose the right course for you

In certain circumstances, it can be worth repeating the Leaving Cert e.g.rather than accepting a place on a college course that is lower down your choice list, or a course that you are neither committed to or suited to and then dropping out. Repeating in this type of scenario with a commitment to meeting the requirements for a course you really want can pay off.

It's also an important consideration when it comes to the student grant. The state only pays once for each year a student spends in college i.e. for one first year, and for one second year and so on. The same applies for students in receipt of free fees or support towards student charges.  If a student drops out in their first year of college, SUSI will not pay their costs for the first year again when they start a new course, but will only pay the second, third and fourth year costs.

Other Options

Before firming up your decision to repeat, it may be worth considering other options available too. For example, the range of apprenticeships is now opening up to include new degree-level options in areas such as insurance, financial services, accountancy, computers and ICT among others. These serve as a route to a degree and a professional qualification, while you earn a salary at the same time.

Check out New Apprenticeship Options here. This could just be the alternative career pathway for you.

The CareersPortal Team