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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 Junior Certificate Examination
The Junior Certificate examination is held at the end of the Junior Cycle in post-primary schools. The Junior Cycle caters for students in the 13 to 15 year old age group. Students normally sit for the examinations at the age of 14 or 15, after 3 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 Skills. link to the Department of Education and Skills

Irish Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
English Higher and Ordinary
Mathematics Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
History Higher and Ordinary
Geography Higher and Ordinary
French Higher and Ordinary
German Higher and Ordinary
Spanish Higher and Ordinary
Italian Higher and Ordinary
Art, Craft & Design Higher and Ordinary
Music Higher and Ordinary
Science (Revised Syllabus) Higher and Ordinary
Home Economics Higher and Ordinary
Materials Technology (Wood) Higher and Ordinary
Metalwork Higher and Ordinary
Technical Graphics Higher and Ordinary
Business Studies Higher and Ordinary
Environmental and Social Studies (ESS) Higher and Ordinary
Technology Higher and Ordinary
Latin Higher and Ordinary
Ancient Greek Higher and Ordinary
Classical Studies Higher and Ordinary
Jewish Studies Higher and Ordinary
Religious Education Higher and Ordinary
Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) Common

Subject Exclusions
Candidates may not take any of following subject combinations:
1. Classical Studies and Latin
2. Classical Studies and Greek
3. Science and Science with Local Studies

Composition of the Examination
The examination incorporates written tests in all subjects except Art, Craft and Design. There are optional oral examinations in the subjects Irish, French, German, Italian and Spanish. There are practical examinations in Art, Craft and Design; Music; Home Economics Metalwork (Higher Level only). There is Practical Course Work in Art, Craft and Design; Materials technology (Wood); Home Economics; Religious Education; Metalwork; Environmental and Social Studies and Civic, Social and Political Education, Technology, Science and Science with Local Studies.

Junior Certificate / Cycle Grading

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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