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Searching for answers: calls to revise our exam system

With thousands of students being given the option of a calculated grade as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, could the Leaving Cert as we know it be coming to an end, asks Kathy Donaghy

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In the hot seat: Connell (Paul Mescal) sitting exams in TV's Normal People. Photo by Enda Bowe

In the hot seat: Connell (Paul Mescal) sitting exams in TV's Normal People. Photo by Enda Bowe

In the hot seat: Connell (Paul Mescal) sitting exams in TV's Normal People. Photo by Enda Bowe

Even decades after sitting the Leaving Cert, many of us still wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming that we are back in the exam hall. It's a rite of passage - three weeks in June that mark the end of school days. For two out of three school leavers, it also determines if they get a coveted place on a college course. The memory of it lingers because it feels like so much of your life and your future depends on it.

Education Minister Joe McHugh told the Dáil last week that cancelling the Leaving Cert exams and the move to predicted assessment was "one of the most difficult recommendations to Cabinet which a minister has ever had to make". But this option will allow students to move on to the next stage of their lives, he said.

On the same day that the decision was made not to make the exams compulsory this year, the Department of Education published advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) about the wellbeing and mental health of Leaving Cert students during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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