Sunday 23 October 2016

Repeating can bring points rises - if you knuckle down

Published 17/08/2015 | 06:00

School Principal Gerry Duffy congratulates Kildare student Emma Ryder, of O'Connell's School, Richmond Lodge, Convent Avenue, Dublin, who got 615 points in her Leaving Certificate.
School Principal Gerry Duffy congratulates Kildare student Emma Ryder, of O'Connell's School, Richmond Lodge, Convent Avenue, Dublin, who got 615 points in her Leaving Certificate.

Repeating the Leaving Certificate is an option that works very well for certain students.

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The pressures experienced by sixth years can militate against best performance when the exams come around in June, and some students know they can do better, and want to improve their points score in order to secure a place on a preferred course.

Students may be just a few points away from the cut-off for their dream course, they may have performed badly in a particular subject, or lacked confidence in their ability to achieve during sixth year and now, surprised by their results, are considering what they might have achieved had they settle down to early revision.

There are also students who haven't worked out what they want to do, and repeat sixth year as a way of buying some extra time, while also working at opening up new doors for themselves in further or higher education.

The numbers sitting repeats have dropped in recent years, while post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses, which can act an alternative entry path to third level, have become increasingly popular.

But the significant rise in points in many courses that is evident this year may see more students considering the repeat option in the hope of strengthening their competitive position for next year's CAO application process.

The advice is that students should not repeat unless they are prepared to knuckle down, but if they do, the general experience is that their points rise, and, often dramatically, provided they take a focused approach to the exam second-time around.

Sometimes a student returns to his or her old school, but many prefer to move on and there are a number of schools and colleges specialising in the repeat year.

O'Connell's, in Dublin's north inner city, is one such school. This year O'Connell's had 65 students in a dedicated repeat class. Another in Dublin is St Laurence College, Loughlinstown, on the southside,

Outside Dublin, Coláiste Mhuire CBS, Mullingar, Co Westmeath is one school well-known for its repeat year.

It is also worth checking with local Education and Training Boards (ETBs), as some further education colleges offer a repeat year. In Dublin city the options include Pearse College, Crumlin; Rathmines College, Dublin 6; Plunket College, Whitehall; Ringsend College, Dublin 4; Coláiste Dhúlaigh, Dublin 17.

Some students may want to return to their old school to repeat, but such a move would be at the discretion of the principal.

Students may also consider dedicated grind schools, which have a strong track record in helping repeat students to improve their results, sometimes spectacularly, although they are the most expensive option.

O'Connell's Principal Gerry Duffy said the repeat class tends to be "a select group who are very focussed - a lot of them would be open to the idea of repeating even before the results came out".

According to Mr Duffy, his repeat students, generally take six subjects but some do seven or eight.

He said that a typical student doing the repeat year in O'Connell's could see points rise from between 200-300 to 450-500, but they have also had a student whose points tally increased from 150 to 500.

Schools like O'Connell's that offer a dedicated repeat class treat these students as a stand-alone group who don't wear a uniform, don't do PE or religion, and stay in school on supervised study,

"The whole idea is to try to get not to make the same mistakes and not to leave it all too late. Once they get over the initial shock of being back at school, they get into a routine within a couple of weeks," he said.

According to Irish Independent guidance columnist, Aoife Walsh, the Leaving Cert year is one of the most challenging in any young person's life and this is not likely to change the second time around.

She said that when considering whether or not to repeat, it would be helpful for students to ask themselves the following questions. 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 habits?

Ms Walsh that it was possible to do much better in the Leaving Cert second time round, but is also possible to slide into old habits and achieve results that are only slightly better than the first sitting.

Students should also consider their subjects, some of which will have different course work each year, she said.

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.

Irish Independent

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