Today marks the start of the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams for almost 125,000 secondary school students. The 2019 timetable has a number of tweaks to reduce stress for those sitting exams, and will also see a 15-year high for the number of entries to the Leaving Cert.
There are 124,379 students sitting exams. This figure includes an increase in the numbers at Leaving Cert, Leaving Cert Applied and Junior Cert level. Students started at 9.30am, with Leaving Cert students taking their English Paper 1.
They will turn their attention to economics after lunch, while Junior Cert students are focused on English and civic social and political education . Ahead of this year’s exams, the State Examinations Commission has made some changes to the timetable, including the addition of two extra days to the calendar.
This has been done to alleviate pressure on candidates by eliminating subject clashes where possible. There has been an effort to ensure there is a minimal chance that a candidate will have to take three exams on a single day, though there is still a chance that some candidates will have to do so.
Results will also be issued on different dates to previous years. Leaving Cert results will be issued a day earlier than usual, on Tuesday, August 13, and there is a tighter schedule around appealing results and the outcome of such an appeal.
This also has a knock-on effect on the release of Junior Cert results, which will now be released at the end of September instead of the middle of the month.
More than 4m examination papers have been distributed to examination superintendents, with 5,200 exam centres to be used. As well as the main centres, there will be a number of special centres to cater for students with special needs. Last year, more than 9,000 such centres catered for 18,642 students who need supports such as scribes or tape recorders.
The commission says the trend of students opting for higher-level subjects is set to continue. While students may change their mind when they are in the exam centre, early indications show a huge number leaning to higher-level subjects.
This includes Irish, where 34,257 students say they will opt for higher, and English, where more than 52,000 will. For maths, 39,244 students say they will choose higher level, with 22,729 opting for ordinary and 2,381 for foundation. This means 37% of students will opt for higher level, which is about double the number that used to before the introduction of CAO bonus points for higher level maths in 2012.
Also this year almost 1,800 students will be assessed in 18 non-curricular language subjects. The most common is Polish, with 820 students getting ready to sit the exam, with Romanian (359), Lithuanian (194) and Portuguese (123) among the more popular. The timetable also includes exams in Slovakian, Croatian, modern Greek, Estonian and Maltese,.