The Leaving Certificate

The Leaving Certificate (Established) programme offers students a broad and balanced education while allowing for some specialisation. The certificate is used for the purposes of selection into further education, employment, training and higher education.
The examination is the terminal examination of post-primary education. It is held at the end of the Senior Cycle in post-primary schools. The Senior Cycle caters for students in the 15 to 18 year old age group. The majority of candidates who sit for the examinations are recognised students in post-primary schools, are 17 or 18 years of age and have completed 5 or 6 years of post-primary education.
However, candidature for the examination is not limited to post-primary school students. A candidate following an approved course of study outside the State or who is attending an approved course of study organised under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme , Adult Literacy and Community Education Schemes, the Department of Social and Family Affairs second-level scheme for the unemployed or an analogous scheme, may be admitted to the examinations on payment of the appropriate fee.
Subject Choice. The examination is offered in the following subjects and levels. For curriculum information for each of these subjects please click on this link to the website of the Department of Education and Science.


Irish Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
English Higher and Ordinary
Latin Higher and Ordinary
Ancient Greek Higher and Ordinary
Classical Studies Higher and Ordinary
Hebrew Studies Higher and Ordinary
Arabic Higher and Ordinary
French Higher and Ordinary
German Higher and Ordinary
Italian Higher and Ordinary
Spanish Higher and Ordinary
History Higher and Ordinary
Geography Higher and Ordinary
Mathematics Higher, Ordinary and Foundation
Applied Mathematics Higher and Ordinary
Physics Higher and Ordinary
Chemistry Higher and Ordinary
Physics and Chemistry Higher and Ordinary
Agricultural Science Higher and Ordinary
Biology Higher and Ordinary
Agricultural Economics Higher and Ordinary
Engineering Higher and Ordinary
Construction Studies Higher and Ordinary
Technology Higher and Ordinary
Design and Communication Graphics Higher and Ordinary
Home Economics Higher and Ordinary
Accounting Higher and Ordinary
Business Higher and Ordinary
Economics Higher and Ordinary
Religious Education Higher and Ordinary
Art (including crafts) Higher and Ordinary
Music Higher and Ordinary
Russian Higher and Ordinary
Japanese Higher and Ordinary


Subject Exclusions

Candidates may not take any of following subject combinations :

  1. Physics and Chemistry and either of the separate subjects, Physics or Chemistry.
  2. Economics and Agricultural Economics.
  3. Classical Studies and Latin.
  4. Classical Studies and Ancient Greek.

Subject Clashes

The State Examinations Commission makes every effort to arrange the examination timetable in order to minimise the potential for subject clashes. Sometimes students enter for subjects that are timetabled for the same time and date. Arrangements can be made to allow time to sit both papers. Please contact Entries Section for further information. Telephone 090 6442704 / 6442702 / 6442706. E-mail:

Composition of the Examination

The examination incorporates written tests in all subjects. In addition, there are oral and aural tests in the subjects Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Japanese. There are practical examinations in the subjects Engineering, Construction Studies, Art and Music. There is Practical Course Work in the subjects Engineering; Construction Studies; Agricultural Economics; Agricultural Science; LCVP; History; Geography, Religious Education, Design and Communication Graphics and Technology. The new examination in Home Economics includes an element of assessed course work and also a Textile option.


Results of the Leaving Certificate examination subjects are given in the form of grades. Each grade represents a percentage range of marks as follows :

Percentage Range
90 or over A1
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


Information taken from