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A new grading system will apply to all of Leaving Certificate subjects from 2017. The new grading system reduces the number of grades from 14 in the old system to 8 under the revised arrangements. The following table provides an explanation of the revised grading system compared to the previous grading system

Level Percentage Grade Descriptor Percentage Grade Descriptor
Higher, Ordinary, Foundation/ Ard, Gnath, Bonn ≥ 90 to 100 A1 ≥ 90 to 100 1
≥ 85 and < 90 A2 ≥ 80 and < 90 2
≥ 80 and < 85 B1 ≥ 70 and < 80 3
≥ 75 and < 80 B2 ≥ 60 and < 70 4
≥ 70 and < 75 B3 ≥ 50 and < 60 5
≥ 65 and < 70 C1 ≥ 40 and < 50 6
≥ 60 and < 65 C2 ≥ 30 and < 40 7
≥ 55 and < 60 C3 ≥ 0 and < 30 8
≥ 50 and < 55 D1
≥ 45 and < 50 D2
≥ 40 and < 45 D3
≥ 25 and < 40 E
≥ 10 and < 25 F
≥ 0 and < 10 NG

The new grading system will be used on the Statements of Provisional Examination Results and on the final Leaving Certificates. The grades will be used consistently across all three examination levels – Higher, Ordinary and Foundation. The Statements and Certificates will indicate the level taken using the following notation beside each subject:

Higher/Ard level, H/A
Ordinary/Gnath level, O/G
Foundation/Bonn level F/B

All grades will be awarded in accordance with the published grading system. Note that the use of percentages is used to facilitate understanding of the Grading system. In the examination marking and resulting processes, grades are derived from marks not percentages. So for example while a mark of 539 out of 600 in an examination is worth 89.83% when expressed as a percentage, the grading is awarded based on the marks which equate to a Grade 2. Rounding up to the next grade band is not permissible.


English is the first subject being examined in the reformed Junior Cycle programme. A revised grading system will apply in English in 2017 which will be rolled out to other subjects as other reformed subjects come on stream. This means that this year, the grading that applies to English and that which applies to all other Junior Certificate subjects will be different. From this year’s examinations, both sets of grades will be in use; the new descriptors for Junior Cycle English and the existing Junior Certificate grades for all other subjects. This format of grading will continue to apply until 2021 when the last of the Junior Certificate examinations are terminated. In the Junior Certificate, candidates will continue to achieve grades of A, B, C etc. to NG based on marks achieved, a total of 7 grades. In the Junior Cycle, achievement will be indicated using the grade descriptors of Distinction, Higher Merit, Merit, Achieved, Partially Achieved, and Not Graded, a total of 6 grade descriptors.

The following table provides an explanation of the current and revised grading system for Junior Certificate / Junior Cycle subjects.

Junior Certificate Junior Cycle
Level Percentage Grade Descriptor Percentage Grade Descriptor
Higher, Ordinary, Foundation/ Ard, Gnath, Bonn ≥ 85 to 100 A ≥ 90 to 100 Distinction
≥ 70 and < 85 B ≥ 75 and < 90 Higher Merit
≥ 55 and < 70 C ≥ 55 and < 75 Merit
≥ 40 and < 55 D ≥ 40 and < 55 Achieved
≥ 25 and < 40 E ≥ 20 and < 40 Partially Achieved
≥ 10 and < 25 F ≥ 0 and < 20 Not Graded (NG)
≥ 0 and < 10 NG

Both the old and the new grading systems will appear side-by-side on the Statements of Provisional Examination Results issued by the SEC and on the final Junior Certificate Profile of Achievement (JCPA) which will be generated by schools and issued for the first time in respect of the 2017 examinations. The JCPA will include details of the final grades awarded by the SEC following the conclusion of the Junior Certificate/Cycle appeals process. The technical arrangements for the production of the JCPA are currently being finalised by the Department of Education and Skills. A broad outline of the arrangements that will apply are set out in Department of Education and Skills circular letter 15/2017. Final details will be communicated to schools and centres by the Department in due course. Junior Cycle English will be offered at Higher and Ordinary Level and there is no longer a Foundation level option in this subject.

More information on these Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate/Cycle changes is available here.

State Examinations Commission, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 TP65. Tel: 090-644 2700 Fax: 090-644 2744 Email us: Click here link to the Contact Form
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