Monday 23 April 2018

Repeating the Leaving Certificate is always an option, but one that should be considered fully

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Aoife Walsh

Repeating the Leaving Certificate is always an option, but one that should be considered fully. With the reforms to the exam grading system and the CAO points scale this year, more caution is needed, at least until the full picture is clear.

The results are to hand, but what school-leavers don't know is what points will be needed for college entry, so they would be well advised to refrain from making any big decisions before Monday at the earliest.

It is often disappointment about not getting a particular college offer that drives the decision to repeat. A student may feel they have performed badly in a subject or lacked confidence in their ability to achieve and now, surprised by their results, are considering what the outcome might have been had they settled down to early revision.

Regardless of why a student might think about repeating, it is essential to take some time and consider all options and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Leaving Cert year is one of the most challenging of any young person's life. This is not likely to change the second time around. Many simply want to achieve the requirements necessary to gain access for a chosen course and this goal should be kept at the forefront of one's mind when making decisions. If a student receives a college offer that will lead them to their general career goal, even if it is not their dream course, moving to third level may be the better choice.

There is also further education, such as a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, which can act as a stepping stone to higher education. For an 18-19 year-old, it is often more beneficial to progress in education than to return to a school environment. Elsewhere in this supplement, there is news about developments in apprenticeships.

Many students do extremely well when they repeat, but it is also possible to slide into old habits and achieve results that are only slightly better, or even lower, than the first sitting.

Those thinking about 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?

Read more: Having another go at maths

This year brings a new way of awarding grades and points, which should also give pause for thought about repeating.

Students should, in addition, consider their subjects, as some, such as English, have different coursework each year.

It is also worth recalling that, for college entry, points must come from one sitting of the exams but it is possible to repeat a subject, or subjects, in order to meet entry requirements.

Students who decide to repeat must consider where to do it. They may wish to return to their own school, which would normally be at the discretion of the principal. Even if the principal agrees, if it does not have a dedicated repeat class (which most do not) students may find they have outgrown that environment. In addition, they will be surrounded by others who will be taking Leaving Cert for the first time, which can create its own challenges.

A small number of secondary schools run dedicated repeat years, for both male and female students, including O'Connell's, on the north side of Dublin city. and CBS Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where the typical intake for the repeat year is 80-90 students.

It is well worth checking with local education and training boards (ETBs), as many further education colleges offer a repeat year, but in a college environment,

A number of private colleges, such as Yeats College, Galway and Waterford, Ashfield College and the Institute of Education, both Dublin, also have strong track records in delivering results, although this is the most expensive option.

Irish Independent

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