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The Established Leaving Certificate

Most Senior Cycle students in Ireland choose the established Leaving Certificate. The established Leaving Certificate is a two-year programme, containing a range of distinct subjects. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level. Two subjects, Irish and Mathematics, can be studied at Foundation Level.

Foundation Level is geared to the needs of students who might have difficulty with those subjects at Ordinary or Higher Level. Students normally study six or seven subjects during the Senior Cycle. If they are following the established Leaving Certificate programme they must take at least five subjects, including Irish.

In choosing Leaving Certificate subjects, students should take note of subjects that they may need for the third-level courses of their choice. For example, a student who hopes to get a place on a course at one of the universities that make up the National University of Ireland must meet a minimum entry requirement of 6 subjects, including English, Irish and a third language, two of which must be at Grade C on a Higher Level paper.

The school guidance counsellor will have the information about the subject requirements for each third-level course.Details of course requirements can also be found on the Irish National Courses Database, About 12,500 students leave school in Ireland each year without the Leaving Certificate. The legal age school-leaving age in Ireland is 16 years. The majority who sit for the Leaving Certificate examination are 17 or 18 years of age and have completed 5 or 6 years of post-primary education.

Performance of participants in the examination can be used for purposes of selection into employment, and into further and higher education

(It is important to note that the Senior cycle is currently undergoing a significant phase of review. To keep up-to-date on Consultation processes and Reports click here)

Leaving Certificate Subjects

In all, 34 Leaving Certificate subjects are available to schools. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level, although two subjects, Irish and mathematics, can also be studied at Foundation Level. In addition to the subjects listed below, the State Examinations Commission will provide examinations in any of the recognised languages of the European Union, where the status of the applicant/candidate is seen as appropriate.

Irish Physics
Applied Mathematics Physics and Chemistry
FrenchAgricultural Science
GermanHome Economics
Spanish Business
Italian Accounting
Russian Economics
Japanese Art
Latin Religious Education
Ancient GreekConstruction Studies
Classical Studies Engineering
Hebrew Studies Technical Drawing
History Agricultural Economics
Geography Economic History

New Projects Maths Syllabus

The new Project Maths syllabus is due to be rolled out in all schools from September 2010. There will continue to be three syllabus levels at Leaving Certificate, and three corresponding examination levels, Foundation, Ordinary Level and Higher Level. There is an increase in the amount of statistics and probability to be studied at both Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. At each level there is increased emphasis on student understanding of the concepts, as well as on the use of appropriate contexts and applications. More active methodologies will be used to promote better student engagement in mathematics classes and to provide them with better insights into mathematics and its applications. Further information on the new syllabus is available on the following PDF

Project Maths Info Leaflet.pdf
and on the NCCA website project maths page

Further information on the Leaving Certificate Subjects and Curriculum is available on the NCCA’s Curriculum On-line Website

Assessment and examinations

The established Leaving Certificate is assessed through a written examination at the end of the two-year programme. There are practical examinations and project work in certain subjects, such as Art, Construction Studies and Engineering. There are oral examinations in Irish and continental languages. The practical and oral tests take place during the final year of the programme. The written examination is held in June each year.

Marking system for examination grades
Percentage Range Grade
90% or overA1
85% but less than 90%A2
80% but less than 85%B1
75% but less than 80%B2
70% but less than 75%B3
65% but less than 70%C1
60% but less than 65%C2
55% but less than 60%C3
50% but less than 55%D1
45% but less than 50%D2
40% but less than 45%D3
25% but less than 40% E
10% but less than 25%F
Less than 10%No grade

How to apply

If you are a post-primary school student, your details will be sent to the State Exams Commission by your school. If you are an external (non-school) candidate for the established Leaving Certificate, your application to the State Examinations Commission should have been sent by the closing date.

Source: copyright Irish Government Website, Oasis

and NCCA Curriculum on line website –