Monday 20 November 2017

What happens if I get ill during my exams?

Mary O'Donnell

As if anybody needed reminding, today marks the start of the State written school examinations, the Leaving Certificate and the Junior Certificate.

The examinations are organised by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), whose website,, is a valuable source of information on all matters relating to the exams.

Q What numbers of students will take the exams this year?

A About 55,550 candidates have entered to sit the Leaving Certificate, 3,245 are taking the Leaving Certificate Applied while there are 57,732 Junior Certificate candidates. Over 110,000 students have entered to take one or other exam.

A distinction is made between 'entrants' and 'sits', that is, the actual numbers of candidates who sit the exams. For one reason or another, a small number of those who entered to sit the exams will not actually sit them.

In order to ensure that the work of each candidate is marked in the same manner, a marking scheme is prepared for each examination.

This marking scheme is much more detailed than the allocation of marks shown on the examination paper and deals with the allowable ways of answering each question.

Q Most people will get through their exams without any difficulty. But what happens if a candidate suddenly becomes ill or suffers some other emergency during the examination period?

A The first thing a candidate should do is to contact their school. The SEC states that it is anxious to provide all the assistance it can to schools and to candidates to help them through their examinations at what is for them a most difficult time, while being careful to maintain the highest standards of fairness and equity in the interests of the generality of candidates and of society as a whole.

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

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 be made depending on circumstances.

SEC personnel are generally on hand from 8.30am to 9.30pm on examination days throughout the examination period, and often outside of those hours and at weekends. Contact may be made through 090-6442700 on a 24-hour basis. Alternatively details can be faxed to 090-6442744.

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides assistance to schools and candidates in crisis during the examinations.

Q When do the exams finish?

A The final exam of Junior Certificate takes place on June 23, while the Leaving Certificate finishes the next day. The written exams of the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme finish on June 16.

The most commonly taken subjects are examined in the first week so many candidates will have finished much earlier than the final date.

This column wishes all candidates the best of luck.

Irish Independent

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