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Monday 22 September 2014

Repeating the Leaving Certificate can be a good option

But the decision is a personal one, and doesn't guarantee extra points, says Katherine Donnelly

Published 18/08/2014 | 06:00

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Sitting exams (picture posed).

THOUSANDS of students weighing up their results and options today will be asking themselves whether they could have done any better, and whether they should go back and do it again.

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Many do decide to give the exams another try, in the hope of scoring higher grades, and points, and because they feel they have a bit more to give.

It is a very personal decision and one that should be taken only after careful consideration and advice, preferably from a guidance counsellor.

Motivation to improve performance is key. Students must critically and honestly reflect on their Leaving Cert performance, the challenges they faced, and most of all, their work ethic.

If students feel that they honestly worked as hard as possible over the last two years then perhaps they will not increase their points by repeating.

If a student knows that they did not give their Leaving Cert enough effort then they must ask themselves how they might increase their effort for one more year. Leaving Cert is a difficult time for any student and is certainly more difficult to do twice.

Betty McLaughlin, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), said there are students who would rather face it all again to get that course of their dreams than have regrets, but cautioned that there is no guarantee that going back will lead to higher grades. .

"Some students will realistically know they didn't do well because they just didn't put in the work. However, there is no point in repeating if the attitude to work remains the same. The year has to be one of hard work and commitment to specific grade aims".

For students who feel that they will be able to cope with this challenge, the benefits can be very significant. Many schools report average points improvements of 100.

Repeating can certainly be a better option than pursuing the wrong college course, while some students may simply need the extra year to decide what they want to do.

Other considerations for students include changes in courses and possible changes in the curriculum. Some courses such as Music or English have different content each year as pieces and texts change.

Secondly students must consider the environment they will return to. Returning to a student's own school can have benefits including financial, ease of travel and familiarity but there can also be drawbacks.

Many repeat students turn 19 during their repeat year and may be expected to follow the same rules as the 12-year-old starting in first year. This can be understandably difficult for many young adults.

Alternatively students could choose a more college environment. Here students must manage their learning independently, however this may increase the cost of repeating and these colleges may not offer all the subjects students have studied up to now.

A number of schools and private colleges offer dedicated repeat years, where classes tend to be small and where students are treated as second-level-plus.

Around the country, schools in the Education and Training Boards (ETB) sector, formerly the VECs, are a good bet, while others with dedicated repeat classes include CBS Colaiste Mhuire, Mullingar and St. Aloysius, Athlone, Co Westmeath.

In the Dublin ETB area, repeat classes are offered in Plunket College, Whitehall; Pearse College, Crumlin; Rathmines College and Ringsend College.

Other Dublin schools with a strong track record in repeat classes are, on the northside, O'Connell's, North Richmond Street, St Joseph's, Marino, and, on the southside, Marian College, Ballsbridge.

St Laurence College, Loughlinstown, south Dublin is also well known for its "seventh year".

Private colleges, such as Yeats College , Galway and Waterford, Institute of Education, Dublin, Ashfield College, Templeogue, Dublin, Hewitt College, Cork and Limerick Tutorial College, also do 'repeat' years, but fees are payable.

Irish Independent

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