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Big Read: Going to college: what happens if the computer says no?

The big read: As Leaving Cert students anxiously await their calculated grades, Kim Bielenberg looks at how the system works. Is Ireland facing the same situation as the UK, where exam grades determined by an algorithm resulted in chaos?

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Making the grade: Protesters hold up placards outside the Department for Education in London over the handling of exam results

Making the grade: Protesters hold up placards outside the Department for Education in London over the handling of exam results

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Open letter: Down High A-Level pupil Charlotte Hart at home in Ballynahinch, Co Down. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Open letter: Down High A-Level pupil Charlotte Hart at home in Ballynahinch, Co Down. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Concerns: Reuban Murray who is President of the Irish Second Level Students Union at his home in Mountrath, Co Laois. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Concerns: Reuban Murray who is President of the Irish Second Level Students Union at his home in Mountrath, Co Laois. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Under pressure: Minister for Education Norma Foley. Photo by Frank McGrath

Under pressure: Minister for Education Norma Foley. Photo by Frank McGrath

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Making the grade: Protesters hold up placards outside the Department for Education in London over the handling of exam results

For Micheál Martin and his embattled ministers, it is another pandemic headache that could turn into a political nightmare. On September 7, the Government faces one of its stiffest tests so far: the announcement of the results of Leaving Cert exams that never happened.

If it all goes wrong, they face the prospect of a repeat of what occurred in Britain, where irate school-leavers accused ministers of "ruining their lives" before there was a spectacular political U-turn.

The almost-impossible task for the Government and schools is to give accurate Leaving Cert grades to students who have not sat their exams. This year, because the holding of exams in June was deemed impractical as a result of Covid-19, the authorities are relying on two main elements to assess how students would have performed.