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Description Of Certificate Examinations

information on how to navigate this section Please click on the dropdown menu below to navigate through each of the State Examination Certificates.
The Leaving Certificate (Established) Programme
The Leaving Certificate (Established) programme offers students a broad and balanced education while allowing for some specialisation. The certificate is used for the purposes of selection into further education, employment, training and higher education.

The examination is the terminal examination of post-primary education. It is held at the end of the Senior Cycle in post-primary schools. The Senior Cycle caters for students in the 15 to 18 year old age group. The majority of candidates who sit for the examinations are recognised students in post-primary schools, are 17 or 18 years of age and have completed 5 or 6 years of post-primary education.

However, candidature for the examination is not limited to post-primary school students. A candidate following an approved course of study outside the State or who is attending an approved course of study organised under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme , Adult Literacy and Community Education Schemes, the Department of Social and Family Affairs second-level scheme for the unemployed or an analogous scheme, may be admitted to the examinations on payment of the appropriate fee. link to the fees section

Subject Choice. The examination is offered in the following subjects and levels. For curriculum information for each of these subjects please click on this link to the website of the Department of Education and to Department of Education and Skills

Irish Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
English Higher and Ordinary
Latin Higher and Ordinary
Ancient Greek Higher and Ordinary
Classical Studies Higher and Ordinary
Hebrew Studies Higher and Ordinary
Arabic Higher and Ordinary
French Higher and Ordinary
German Higher and Ordinary
Italian Higher and Ordinary
Spanish Higher and Ordinary
History Higher and Ordinary
Geography Higher and Ordinary
Mathematics Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
Applied Mathematics Higher and Ordinary
Physics Higher and Ordinary
Chemistry Higher and Ordinary
Physics and Chemistry Higher and Ordinary
Agricultural Science Higher and Ordinary
Biology Higher and Ordinary
Agricultural Economics Higher and Ordinary
Engineering Higher and Ordinary
Construction Studies Higher and Ordinary
Technology Higher and Ordinary
Design and Communication Graphics Higher and Ordinary
Home Economics Higher and Ordinary
Accounting Higher and Ordinary
Business Higher and Ordinary
Economics Higher and Ordinary
Religious Education Higher and Ordinary
Art (including crafts) Higher and Ordinary
Music Higher and Ordinary
Russian Higher and Ordinary
Japanese Higher and Ordinary

Other EU Language Subjects
Examinations in a number of other EU language subjects are also offered on a non-curricular basis and subject to candidates meeting certain criteria.
Please click here for further information.

Subject Exclusions
Candidates may not take any of following subject combinations:

1. Physics and Chemistry and either of the separate subjects, Physics or Chemistry.
2. Economics and Agricultural Economics.
3. Classical Studies and Latin.
4. Classical Studies and Ancient Greek.

Subject Clashes
The State Examinations Commission makes every effort to arrange the examination timetable in order to minimise the potential for subject clashes. Sometimes students enter for subjects that are timetabled for the same time and date. Arrangements can be made to allow time to sit both papers. Please contact Entries Section for further information. Telephone 090 6442704 / 6442702 / 6442706. E-mail:

Composition of the Examination
The examination incorporates written tests in all subjects. In addition, there are oral and aural tests in the subjects Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Japanese. There are practical examinations in the subjects Engineering, Construction Studies, Art and Music. There is Practical Course Work in the subjects Engineering; Construction Studies; Agricultural Economics; Agricultural Science; LCVP; History; Geography, Religious Education, Design and Communication Graphics and Technology. The new examination in Home Economics includes an element of assessed course work and also a Textile option.

Leaving Certificate Grading

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.

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
Page last updated: January 16 2019, 09:41 GMT This website conforms to level Double A of the W3C Guidelines 1.0