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Aishling Butler

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An Garda Síochána

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Aishling Butler
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Leaving Cert 2017

Repeating the Leaving Cert

Every year, about 2,000 students repeat the Leaving Certificate. Some return as an alternative to opting for the wrong third-level course; others because they feel they didn't do themselves justice in the June exams, e.g. students who want to do medicine or nursing and didn’t quite get the points. Some students simply use repeating as a way to buy time until they figure out what it is they want to do.

The good news is that repeat classes tend to be small, which allows for individual attention and there is generally a strong focus on study skills.

To repeat or not to repeat ...

When considering whether or not to repeat, it is helpful for students to reflect and ask themselves some questions such as:

  • What prevented me from gaining the result I wanted?
  • Were these circumstances within my control?
  • Will it be different this year or am I likely to fall into the same patterns?

It is possible to do significantly better in the Leaving Cert second time round, but unfortunately, it is also possible to slide into old habits and achieve results that are only slightly better than the first time around. Having been through the experience of studying and sitting the examinations previously, you will have gained a familiarity that will benefit you immensely when you repeat. Improving your study skills and coping skills, along with a positive attitude will offer you the opportunity to maximise your potential second time round.

The only way is up!

In general, repeating is a win-win situation. If you do your Leaving Cert this year and get 400 points, and the next year you repeat and only get 380, the Department of Education will accept the highest points achieved in one sitting. So for this reason, you are re not going to lose. You won’t go down in points, but you can go up!

Subjects

Students thinking of repeating should consider their subjects, some of which will have different course work each year. For example, in English, the skills students are required to develop remain fixed but the texts may change. Other subjects that may be affected by changes in the prescribed exam material from year to year include music and history.

It is not necessary to re-sit all of your exams unless of course, you want to. You can drop subjects you did the first time round if you have fulfilled the minimum entry requirements for the courses you are applying for. Remember, you can only count the points from a single sitting of the Leaving Cert - points from both sittings of the Leaving Cert cannot be added together. So while you can drop maths, English, Irish – if you passed them the first time – you will need to take exams in at least six subjects to get your full tally of points. So if you drop maths, you may need to take something else to replace it.

It is possible to take up an entirely new subject for the first time when repeating and this can be a popular option. Although the workload of Leaving Cert courses are set out as two-year programmes, students will sometimes find that subject content can overlap. For example, if your strengths lie in Biology you can see how this coincides with chapters in the Home-Economics syllabus, therefore, lessening your workload.

Students also have the option of resitting just one subject if they failed to meet the entry requirements for a specific college course. For example not, obtaining the required Maths results for an Engineering course or not achieving the required amount of honours to do a particular degree course.

Dates and information about second-chance or alternative Maths Competency Tests hosted by individual colleges are available here

Where to Repeat

Students who decide that repeating is the best option for them need to consider where to repeat. Returning to your old school may be possible, but this is normally at the discretion of the school principal (This is because the school does not get a capitation grant for students who are repeating). It has the benefit of being a familiar environment, close to home with teachers who know and understand you as a student. However, schools generally do not have a dedicated repeat class, so returning students will be surrounded by others taking Leaving Cert for the first time, which can create its own challenges.

For those who want to leave their old school behind, Education and Training Boards offer repeat Leaving Certificate courses in a number of colleges throughout the country. Alternatively, several private colleges and grind schools offer repeat Leaving Certificate courses.

Enrolment and advice on subject choices normally take place from the beginning of August to mid-September each year, depending on the college.

Go to: List of schools/colleges offering Repeat Leaving Certificate

Costs

The cost repeating the Leaving Certificate varies. ETB colleges are the less expensive option, however, students are advised to check with their local college to see exactly what costs are involved. If you choose to repeat with a private college the cost will be considerably higher.

FAQs

Do I Need to Repeat all Subjects?

No, it is not necessary to re-sit all your exams, unless you want to.

You can only use the points from your best six subjects in one sitting of the Leaving Cert. The rule is that points from both sittings cannot be added together if you opt to repeat.

You can take up an entirely new subject for the first time when repeating - this can be a popular option. Although the workload of Leaving Cert courses are set out as two-year programmes, students will sometimes find that subject content can overlap. For example, if your strengths lie in Biology you can see how this coincides with chapters in the Home-Economics syllabus, therefore, lessening your workload.

You also have the option of resitting just one subject, for example, if you failed to meet the entry requirements of the college for a specific course such as getting the required Maths results for an Engineering course, or not achieving the required amount of honours for entry a level 8 degree course.

What are my options if I failed Leaving Cert Maths?

If a poor Leaving Cert Maths result has made a significant impact on your chances of getting a specific course, all hope is not lost.

Some colleges host Alternative Maths exams.

Students who failed to guarantee themselves a place on a particular course due to their Leaving Cert Maths result may have a second chance opportunity to sit an alternative exam.

Colleges are also facilitating Preparation Courses in order to assist students that have difficulty with Maths.

Maynooth University is offering this facility for Engineering courses specifically, while NUI Galway is holding the exam for entry into Engineering and Information Technology Programmes.

Links are provided below for details of Preparation Courses and Alternative Maths exams:

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