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Leaving Certificate: To repeat or not to repeat? Only the student can answer


It is often the students who do not investigate fully their options at levels 5, 6 and 7 who receive no offer in August

It is often the students who do not investigate fully their options at levels 5, 6 and 7 who receive no offer in August

It is often the students who do not investigate fully their options at levels 5, 6 and 7 who receive no offer in August

Disappointed students may find themselves considering repeating.

This can be a common early reaction to receiving results, for many different reasons: students may be just a few points away from the expected cut-off for their dream course, they may have performed badly in a particular subject, or lacked confidence in their ability to achieve during 6th year and now, surprised by their results, are considering what they might have achieved had they settle down to early revision (more students fall into this category than we may realise).

Whatever the reasons, the decision to repeat presents both positive and negative considerations.

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. For many young people, the goal of the Leaving Cert is simply to achieve the necessary requirements to gain access to their chosen course, which should also be kept at the forefront of one's mind when making decisions for next year.

If a student has already achieved a place on a course that will get them to their career goal, moving forward to third level may be the best option.

Alternatively, a further education course, which could allow the student to gain access to their college course next year may be appropriate.

When considering whether or not to repeat, it is 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?

It is 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.

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

Students who decide that repeating is the best option for them must also consider where they might choose to repeat. They may wish to return to their own school, but such a move is normally at the discretion of the school principal.

Repeating in one's own school has the benefit of being in a familiar environment, close to home with teachers who know and understand the students.

However, most schools do not have a dedicated repeat class, so returning students will be surrounded by others taking Leaving Cert for the first time, which can create its own challenges.

The small number of second-level schools with dedicated repeat classes include St Joseph's, Marino and O'Connell's on Dublin's northside, St Laurence College, Loughlinstown, south Dublin and Coláiste Mhuire CBS, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

It worth checking with local Education and Training Boards (ETBs), as some further education colleges offer a repeat year. This option allows students to move to a college environment, but study a Leaving Cert course.

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

This is a difficult decision for anyone and any student considering repeating, should contact their guidance counsellor or the Exam Helpline (1800 265 165) to talk through their options.

I did Leaving Cert Applied - What Next?

While Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students cannot apply directly to the CAO, there are a number of options available to them if they wish to complete further study or training.

LCA students may apply to further education/PLC colleges, where they can study at Level 5 or Level 6 in a variety of areas.

These qualifications may then be used to enter the workplace or to progress to a Level 6, 7 or 8 course in a third-level college.

LCA holders can also apply for apprenticeship, the defence forces, Teagasc and other school-leaver programmes.

How do I use my LCVP result for the CAO?

Typically a LCVP student takes seven subjects, just like traditional Leaving Cert students. In addition they take link modules with a vocational focus for which they can earn up to 70 CAO points.

Students should add together their top six subjects for points (not grades), which may include points earned for LCVP. All colleges recognise LCVP for points but not as a subject for matriculation therefore students will need to pass at least five subjects (not including LCVP) for the CAO and six subjects for Level 8.

LCVP students may apply for the same opportunities as established Leaving Cert candidates.

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