President leads host of well wishers
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins led the host of well-wishers sending good luck messages to over 116,000 leaving and junior certificate candidates starting their exams today.
President Higgins, along with Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, advised any students feeling under pressure to seek support.
There are 53,789 candidates entered for the traditional Leaving Certificate exam, down over 1,500 on last year.
This is partly because of a low birth rate in 1994, before the baby boom took off.
In contrast, Junior Cert numbers are up to 59,684, the first wave of the "baby boom" generation making its way through second-level.
A significant change this year is the introduction of 25 bonus CAO points for students achieving a minimum grade D3 in higher level Leaving Cert maths, to encourage uptake at that level.
This has led to an almost 25pc increase in the number of students who have indicated they will take the higher paper.
Noting the increase, Mr Quinn said: "I know that students might be nervous about the higher level paper, but if they have worked hard they should stay the course."
Meanwhile, Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, advised students to "get enough sleep, watch your diet and make sure to read the exam paper first, be careful to answer the question you're being asked".
The exams, which will run until Friday, June 22, are a mammoth exercise involving over 4,800 superintendents supervising the written examinations and distributing three million examination papers.
Over 4,000 examiners will be involved in marking the work presented by candidates in the written examinations.
This is in addition to some 2,000 examiners required to mark the oral and practical tests.