Leaving Cert 2012: 57,000 start with English while 60,000 begin the Junior Cert
MORE than 116,000 students across the country started their State exams today.
President Michael D Higgins and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn sent good wishes to pupils who will take almost 90 subjects over the next two weeks.
Native speakers from 15 other EU countries will also be sitting Leaving Cert papers in their mother tongue, including Finnish, Hungarian and Slovakian.
Mr Higgins said: "I would like to advise anyone taking exams and feeling under pressure not to hesitate to seek whatever support they can get from parents, family and friends.
"Once again, my very best wishes to all and, of course, good luck."
More than 57,000 pupils are sitting the Leaving Cert and Applied paper, with almost 60,000 taking the Junior Cert.
Students attending exam centres in Howth, around Croke Park and in Dublin's north inner city were warned to give themselves extra time this morning to get to school because of road closures as the Olympic Torch tours the capital.
Mr Quinn said the next two weeks will be the culmination of pupils' hard work.
He said a significant change this year is the introduction of 25 bonus CAO points for students sitting higher level maths for the Leaving Cert, which has led to an almost 25pc increase in the number of students taking the paper.
"I know that students might be nervous about the higher level paper, but if they have worked hard they should stay the course," said Mr Quinn.
"Traditionally, many students hesitate at the last hurdle and opt for the lower level paper, but I would urge each student to think of the work that they have put in, listen to the advice of their teachers, and have faith in themselves."
All Leaving Cert students will be examined in some elements of the Project Maths programme, while the oral Irish will account for 40pc of the overall mark.
Bernie Ruane, president of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), said the vast majority of candidates will find they are better prepared than they think.
Pupils under pressure have been warned to seek support, while pharmacists have launched an anti-stress guide for students.
Ms Ruane said: "Students should take care of themselves during the examination period, eating and sleeping properly and taking regular exercise and study breaks.
"Also, they should remember that each examination is a fresh start.
"Most importantly of all, students should keep things in perspective and remember that these exams will not define their lives."
Leaving Certificate results will be issued on August 15, with Junior Certificate results out a month later.
Richard Langford, chairman of the State Examinations Commission (SEC), said candidates in 4,786 centres across the country will finally have the opportunity to demonstrate the wide range of skills and competencies they have acquired during their many years of study.
"Everyone involved in the examinations process is aware that this can be a difficult and stressful time for candidates and their parents but a calm and positive approach, together with the ongoing support of family and schools can help students reach their potential," he said.
"The staff and commissioners of the SEC will continue to focus on providing a high quality examination service which operates openly and transparently for the benefit of all candidates."
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