There is another way
Published 06/10/2010 | 05:00
As a teacher at St Andrew's College in Dublin, William Hehir is in a good position to assess the merits of the Leaving Cert when compared with other exam systems.
He teaches chemistry at Leaving Cert level, and also teaches the same subject for the International Baccalaureate (IB), a qualification recognised worldwide and taken by 70 students at St Andrew's.
"I would say that the IB is a much better exam," says Mr Hehir. "In the Leaving Cert, you could get an 'A' by simply learning off the answers to exam papers, or learning off the contents of a text book.
"In the IB there is a much greater emphasis on critical thinking and analysis. The questions tend to be much fresher, more challenging and unpredictable. It is about processing knowledge rather than regurgitation.
"There is also a greater emphasis on continuous assessment. It is a more rigorous pre-university programme."
The IB does not just focus on academic achievement. Students are also required to take part in a programme known as Creativity Action Service. This involves other activities, including art, sport and community work.