Leaving Cert 2021 Announcements: Instagram Live with Leaving Cert Guidance and ISSU

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Last week, the government announced its plan for Leaving Cert 2021 and how it will go ahead.

There was a lot of confusion about certain aspects of the plan, therefore students were left with lots of questions.

To answer those questions, we hopped onto Instagram Live with two great guests. Donnchadh O'Mahony, career guidance expert from @LeavingCert Guidance, and Reuban Murray, President of the ISSU.

You can watch the Live back here:


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Here's a summary of the main points & questions:

How do accredited grades work and what will be used to determine the grade you get? (2:28)

Accredited grades are what the SEC is proposing to assess Leaving Cert this year for those who don't want to sit the exam. How it works is, up until the 14th May, your teachers will collect data (as well as data collected from 5th year and up until now) to decide on a predicted grade to give to the State Examinations Commission (SEC). Your grade will consist of both a written exam component grade & an additional assessment grade (where applicable, e.g. if there would have been a practical exam), and then a combination of both grades is what becomes your predicated grade. After this, the SEC uses the national standardisation process which may change your grade from the one your teacher gave you. This is what is then the accredited grade.

What materials do teachers use to predict your grade? (6:22)

We are still waiting on specifics for this, but most likely it will be made up of data collected in 5th and 6th year. This isn't necessarily only class tests,  but also homework, work handed up, etc. Keep in mind that the work done between now and the 14th May will also be taken into account, so you have a great opportunity to put work & effort in now & hopefully see that come through in your results. After your teacher decides on what they think your predicted grade should be, there will then be a school alignment process where your teacher chats to other teachers who may have taught you in the past to confirm your predicated grade, after which your principal oversees all grades before sending them to the SEC. More info on this will be released soon and the ISSU is committed to making sure any important information is communicated to students.

What is the best way to approach the Leaving Cert, what exams should a student sit to give themselves the best chance? (7:40)

This is very personal for each student. If you need higher points you might not want to leave it to chance and therefore might want to choose to sit all exams. There's no general formula of what you should do. If you don't want to leave it to chance or think you will regret not sitting the exams, you should sit them. 

What are the key dates in Leaving Cert 2021? (10:00)

Minister `Foley has said that a student portal will open in early March where students can enter whether they will sit the exams or not - we are not sure yet how long this portal will stay open. You don't have to do course work/practical/oral if you choose not to sit the exams.

The 14th of May is the close date for the data collection by teachers, and on the 28th of May, all schools will close. The 4th of June is when grades are sent to SEC and on the 9th of June, the LC starts.

What is happening with the written exams if those exams also entail practical and oral exams? (11:33)

If you choose to do the written exam, you must also do an oral. There may be adjustments made to the oral exams but we are waiting to hear specifics on this for now.

How will the Leaving Cert results work, what will be your final grade? (19:50)

Everyone can opt-in for accredited grades, but you can also sit exams. You can do both & give yourself the best opportunity. If you choose to sit the exam, you get the best grade out of your accredited grade or the grade you got in the exam, e.g. if you get a H2 in the exam but your accredited grade was a H1, you will get the H1 in the end. In August, you will receive a certificate with just one grade (the higher of the two). More info will be released on this soon.

How do accredited grades work if you do subjects outside of school/you're homeschooled? (22:35)

Guidance & details on this will be released soon. The Dep. of Education is working on making sure cases like these are being catered to.

Why can't students see their accredited grade before sitting the written exams? (23:29)

The ISSU really pushed for this but unfortunately, after looking at all of the options and taking everything into account, it was just not feasible. The current options are the best option we could possibly have for students.

Should students be worried about grade inflation? (24:50)

Last year, there were around 5000 extra places made in 3rd level institutions, so that there was more supply and therefore lower demand, reducing the risk of high inflation. We expect these extra places to remain this year and this should put students at ease who are worried about not getting their course.

What constitutes canvassing and where are the lines drawn? (25:49)

Essentially, canvassing is students trying to get in contact with their teachers to try and influence them to give a specific/higher grade. There will be specific documents & info on what constitutes canvassing released soon so that students know what is and is not acceptable. 

Will there be more choice of questions on the paper? (30:15)

This is still being outlined but more choice is being strongly advocated for.

What do we know about project work/coursework for subjects? (30:56)

If you want to sit the written exam, you should make sure to finish the coursework where at all possible. If you don't submit coursework/project work and you later choose to sit the exam, you will miss out on the marks for coursework and only be able to get e.g. the 60% that is going towards the written exam. If you choose to go for accredited grades, you don't need to submit the coursework. 

Where to go when more specific information is released on the Leaving Cert 2021? (32:40)

Keep an eye on ISSU's Instagram & website for updates & upcoming information events where you can ask any questions you might have.

A big thank you to Donnchadh and Reuban for being excellent guests and breaking down exactly what's happening right now for confused students everywhere.

For more excellent career advice and insight, you can follow Donnchadh on Instagram at @LeavingCertGuidance

For updates on what's going on with Leaving Cert 2021 and beyond, you can follow the ISSU on Instagram at @issu4u.

If you have any suggestions for future content that you'd like to see on Studyclix and our socials, please let us know! And be sure to follow us for regular study tips, information, competitions, and lots of fun stuff. 


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