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Study reveals Leaving Cert students split on cancelling exams

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Leaving Cert students are split on whether the June exams should be cancelled, according to a new survey.

Almost half – 49pc – want to cancel the June sittings and to be assessed through a system of predicted grading, based on previous results.

However, 45pc of student don’t want the traditional exams abandoned, with many supporting the idea of a July or August sitting if they can’t happen in June.

The survey, by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) and garnered 46,493 valid responses - 28,343 from Leaving Cert students and 18,150 from Junior Cert students. This represents 46pc and 28pc of this year’s exam students.

Participants were given four options and asked to vote according to their preferences: proceed with the written exams in June, adhering to social distancing guidelines; cancel the exams and follow a predicted grading model, reschedule to July or August;  or ‘other’.

Among third years, there was strong support for the exams to be replaced by predictive grading, with that option the choice of 77pc.

It was less clear cut among Leaving Cert candidates - alongside the 49pc of sixth years supporting the exams’ cancellation, was 26pc who wanted them to go ahead and 19pc who supported a rescheduling. Some 6pc voted for “other”.

The ISSU said the period of uncertainty has brought about unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress among students. The union said survey sample was significant, and was the largest survey response the union has ever received.

The ISSU noted that while there was considerable opposition to a proposal for predicted grading among Leaving Certificate students, there was also a majority opposed to sitting exams in June as planned.

Among their recommendations are for an exams contingency plan to be announced as soon as possible and to be inclusive of the variety of needs of students, including those who have learning difficulties, those who have not easily accessible online resources, those who have not completed subject course curriculums, those who are repeating, those who are sitting individual exams , those with assignment based subjects and those who have deferred a year.

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