If your daughter/son has just completed Junior Cycle or Transition Year she/he will be choosing between two different Leaving Certificates on offer in the College. We hope the frequently asked questions, which follow, will answer some of your queries.

Who can go on to do a Leaving Certificate?
Any student who has completed Junior Cycle can do a Leaving Certificate.

So you offer a choice of two different Leaving Certificates – Can you tell me more about them?
Yes! They are known as the traditional Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied. Both are two-year full-time programmes.

Which Leaving Cert do most students choose?
The traditional Leaving Certificate is still by far the most popular. Approximately 95% of all students in Ireland sit this exam with the remaining 5% sitting the Leaving Certificate Applied.

Why is the traditional Leaving Certificate so popular?
The traditional Leaving Certificate is a natural follow-on from the Junior Cycle providing real academic challenges for most young people. It also caters for the wide range of students’ abilities and aptitudes. It is therefore the chosen option in most schools.

Students who wish to gain direct entry into any of our third level colleges i.e. universities and Institutes of Technology must sit the traditional Leaving Certificate. Entry into these colleges is based on points awarded to the students according to the grades they receive in the traditional Leaving Certificate exam. The traditional Leaving Certificate is the one that most employers are familiar with and tend to prefer.

What is involved in the established Leaving Certificate Programme?
Students generally study seven subjects. English, Irish, Maths and a language – (French or Spanish), form the main core subjects. Then students will also study three subjects from the following – Biology, Business Studies, Art, Geography, History, Technology and Music  which may be offered to them. Like the Junior Certificate students may choose to study their subjects at Higher or Ordinary level. English, Irish and Maths can also be studied at a Foundation level.

How are the students assessed?
Students sit examinations held in June at the end of their two years of study. Like the Junior Cycle the State Examination Commission fixes the dates of these exams and assessments.

So there is no Classroom Based Assessment (CBA) in the traditional Leaving Certificate?
No. Some subjects like Art for example do have a practical examination. Others like Geography and Home Economics, for example, require students to undertake a field study project or complete a student journal which may form a percentage of the final mark.

Why might my son/daughter choose the Leaving Certificate Applied instead?
The Leaving Certificate Applied is very appealing to students who find academic work and study particularly challenging. The Leaving Certificate Applied is also suited to students who wish to follow a practical course that will prepare them for working life.

Also the students’ work is continually assessed over the two years of the programme and they will have gained a lot of credits (marks) before sitting the final exam.

What do the students study?
The programme is divided into three main areas.

  1. Vocational Preparation: Work Experience and Preparation For Working Life.

  2. Vocational Education: Practical Maths, I.T. plus two specialist courses from the following: Active Leisure Studies, Childcare / Community Care, Craft and Design, Hair and Beauty, Hotel, Catering and Tourism, Office Administration and Customer Care, Technology, Information and Communications, Technology.

  3. General Education: Arts Education, Irish, Modern Language, Leisure and Recreation, Social Education, Religion and Science.

    Students study these subjects in modules.

How are students awarded credits or marks?
As students complete their course work (Key Assignments and Tasks) they are awarded credits, which go towards their final result. It is possible to score almost two-thirds of their marks for work completed in school, before they sit the final examinations.

The Leaving Cert Applied is awarded at three levels: Distinction, Merit or Pass. Students also receive credits for regular attendance at school. School attendance of 90% or higher is obligatory. Only absences explained by a doctor’s note can be excused. Students who do not attend regularly will not be awarded a Pass descriptor in their Leaving Cert Applied.

Does the Leaving Cert Applied count for “Points” for third level college places?
No. but you can get on to a PLC course with this Leaving Cert which can lead on to third level entry.

What is a PLC?
It is a course run in an ETB school e.g. Marino College of Further Education, Connolly House, for students who have completed either of the Leaving Certificates. There are a huge variety of PLC courses in PLC colleges ranging from Business to Nursing to Childcare, Photography, Drama, Media etc. Our Career Guidance teachers can help you find out more about what’s on offer and where.

Can students with the Leaving Certificate Applied get onto all PLC courses?
Generally yes, however, some PLC courses ask for different qualifications in Maths or in Science and Technology. Our Career Guidance teachers help you find out the requirements for particular courses.

Say he/she does a PLC course, what then?
Students can gain entry to some third level courses and apprenticeships (eg Carpentry) or traineeships (eg Dental Nursing) based on their PLC attainments. Many students choose to go directly into employment.

What if my son/daughter doesn’t want to go on to a PLC course? Is there anything else for them with the Leaving Certificate Applied?
Yes. SOLAS formerly FAS, accept this course for apprenticeship courses. It is also accepted for entry into the Gárdaí, the Defence Forces, the Civil Service and Fáilte Ireland (training in Catering and Tourism). Some students may go directly from the Leaving Certificate Applied into the work place. Remember, most employers will want their employees to have completed a Leaving Certificate.

Do students with a Leaving Certificate Applied find employment?
Research by the DES show that on average 89% of LCA graduates are employed or attending further education courses in the year immediately following completion of the programme.

Where can I find out more about the Leaving Certificate Applied programme?
For further information you can contact the Leaving Cert Applied Support Services, CDETB Curriculum Development Unit, Captain’s Road, Dublin 12. Tel: 01 453 5487 or email: