The 20,040 students entered with the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for the honours papers are among nearly 121,000 preparing to begin the Junior and Leaving Certificate this morning.
The papers have been distributed to schools and other centres for 55,255 students sitting the traditional Leaving Certificate and 2,744 doing Leaving Certificate Applied, both around 2% lower than last year’s entry levels. The numbers doing the Junior Certificate are up by nearly 900, or 1.4%, to 62,968.
While English papers are timetabled for the first session today, the first Maths exam is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Although previous years’ trends suggest that as many as 4,000 Leaving Certificate students may drop down from higher level to ordinary level on the day, the 37% of maths candidates who indicated earlier in the year they would do the tougher exam is the highest on record. It beats the 36% initially entered for higher-level maths a year ago, when the actual number who took it in June was just under 16,400, also a record high.
The upward trend in higher-level maths uptake began with the introduction in 2012 of bonus college entry points for passing, reversing falls in higher-level sits to below one in six of all those examined in maths. The rise continued last year when changes to the grading system meant students who previously got an E for 30% to 40% and received no CAO college entry points could still pick up the 25-points bonus with a new H7 grade.
For the second year, only one written English exam is being taken by Junior Certificate students under ongoing junior cycle reforms. Their two classroom-based assessments in English, which have already been completed, will count toward their overall mark in a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement that also incorporates their Junior Certificate grade in the subject.
For the first time, politics and society will be examined as 882 Leaving Certificate students are entered for the paper scheduled for June 20 at 41 schools where the subject has been piloted.
Students will also have more extensive access to their exam scripts from this year as a result of a European Court of Justice ruling that has determined that such scripts constitute personal data.
However, in order to prioritise the appeals process and ensure re-marking is completed in time with the SEC’s deadlines, it could be three months after exam results issue in August before copies can be provided.
This will not affect the right of Leaving Certificate students to appeal a grade in any subject, but they can still only view a marked script in advance of making an appeal during the allotted dates on Friday and Saturday, August 31 and September 1. Because of the definition of exam papers as personal data, new restrictions on access and copying of the originals have been issued to schools and students, and information about seeking access to Junior Certificate scripts will be provided when students get their results in September.