Sunday 18 August 2019

Countdown to CAO: To repeat or not to repeat? That needs careful thought

Moving on may be a better option, writes Aoife Walsh

Stock image
Stock image

Some students may feel they have performed badly in a particular subject, or lacked confidence in their ability and now, surprised by their results, are considering what they might have achieved had they settled down to early revision.

Repeating the Leaving Cert is an option but, regardless of the reasons why someone may think about doing that, it is essential to take time to give it consideration.

Leaving Cert year is one of the most challenging years of any young person's life and this is not likely to change the second time around.

For many, the goal of Leaving Cert is simply to achieve the requirements necessary to gain access to their chosen course and while repeating can be a good option, there are other pathways that should be considered. It is often more beneficial for students to move forward in education than return to a school environment.

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses that allow progression to a higher education programme relevant to a student's career goal can be an excellent route.

Additionally, there are opportunities to go straight into third-level this year where vacancies exist, through avenues such as CAO Available Places, direct entry courses, and UCAS's Clearing for entry to UK universities.

Anyone considering repeating should ask themselves: What prevented me from gaining the result I wanted? Were these circumstances within my control? Will this be different next year or am I likely to fall into the same habits?

It is possible to perform better the second time round but is equally possible to slide into old habits and achieve results that are only slightly better or even worse.

Students should also consider their subjects - some will have different course work. For example, in English, the skills students are required to develop remain fixed, but the texts may change. Other subjects which may be similarly affected include music and history.

Remember, while CAO points must come from one sitting of the exams it is possible to repeat a subject, or subjects, to meet an entry requirement.

Read more here: A recheck may bring a higher CAO offer in September

Students who decide that repeating is the best option must also consider where to do it.

Returning to their own school is normally at the discretion of the principal. It has the benefit of being familiar, close to home and with teachers who know and understand them. However, if the school does not have a dedicated repeat class (most do not), students may find they have outgrown the environment.

There are also dedicated grind schools, where a Leaving Cert course is taught over one year. This option may be the most expensive and involve travel.

Students could check with local education and training boards (ETBs) as many further education colleges offer a repeat year. Fees tend to be much lower than in grind schools.

All options will require dedication, focus and an ability to manage their own study.

It is a difficult decision and should not be entered into lightly. Students should consider contacting a guidance counsellor or the NPCpp helpline (1800 265 165) if they wish to explore their options.

Irish Independent

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