Monday 23 October 2017

Don't let the Olympics torch relay affect examinations

Today is not just the start of the State written school examinations, the Leaving Certificate and the Junior Certificate; it is also the day that the 2012 Olympics torch relay passes through Dublin.

The State Examinations Commission was concerned that all those taking part in examinations in Dublin today were conscious of the event and of its potential to impact on journey times to examination centres.

It advised candidates to plan their journey so as to arrive at their examination centre early, well before the appointed time, if they are travelling to or from any of the areas potentially affected by the event particularly the first stage of the event in Howth.

Q What happens if a candidate suddenly becomes ill or suffers some other emergency during the two-week examination period?

AThe first thing a candidate should do in an emergency is contact the school. The State Examinations Commission (SEC) states that it is anxious to provide all the assistance it can to schools and to candidates to help them through their examinations, while being careful to maintain the highest standards of fairness.

If candidates are unable to take the examinations in their normal centre, they may be allowed to take them in a special room in the school or in a hospital. Other arrangements can also be made depending on the individual circumstances. Where an emergency occurs, the SEC believes that the school is likely to be in the best position to make the necessary alternative arrangements at short notice.

External candidates, that is, those who are not attending a recognised secondary school, should contact the SEC directly.

SEC personnel are available from 8.30am to 9.30pm on examination days, and often outside of those hours and at weekends. Contact may be made through the main number 090 6442700 on a 24-hour basis and a brief message can be left with the security staff if the office is closed. Alternatively details can be faxed to 090-6442744.

The State Examinations Commission's website,, is a great source of information on all exam-related matters.

Q How many students will take the exams this year?

A A figure of 53,789 candidates has entered for the Leaving Certificate, 3,301 are scheduled to complete the Leaving Certificate Applied. A further 59,684 candidates have entered for the Junior Certificate. A distinction is made between "entrants" and "sits", that is, the numbers of candidates who sit the exams. A small number of those who enter to take the exams will not actually sit them.

This year sees the start of the pilot scheme whereby third-level institutions will award bonus (CAO) points for Leaving Certificate Higher Level Maths (to encourage greater numbers of students to continue with the study of Maths at Higher Level.) Under the scheme 25 bonus points will be added to the standard score for any candidate who presents any Higher Level Maths grade from an A1 to a D3.

The bonus scheme certainly appears to have attracted an increase in candidates, with 12,900 entries for Higher Level Maths in 2012, up from 10,435 in 2011. A further 2,669 have entered for Foundation Level Maths. These figures may change slightly when the actual number of "sits" in each category is counted.

Irish Independent

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