Friday 13 December 2019

Number of Leaving Cert pupils seeking rechecks doubles

UCD student Rebecca Carter. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
UCD student Rebecca Carter. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

The number of Leaving Cert candidates appealing their exam grades has almost doubled this year.

A record 9,049 students - one in six of those who sat the exam - have sought a recheck on one or more papers, up from 5,197 in 2018.

In all, candidates have appealed the results in 17,037 papers, up from 9,087 last year.

The biggest increase in appeal applications is in higher level music, up 192pc, to 479.

It is closely followed by design and communication graphics (higher), up 187pc to 301; Irish (higher), up to 1,933; engineering (higher), up 165pc to 106; Spanish (higher), up 159pc to 454; Irish (ordinary), up 155pc to 112; biology (higher), up 151pc to 2,092.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has been caught by surprise at the level of demand, but insists it can keep to its mid-September timeline for releasing appeal outcomes.

There was a particular focus on the appeals process this year following last autumn's High Court ruling ordering that it be speeded up.

The ruling arose in the case of Rebecca Carter, who faced being asked to delay taking up her dream place in veterinary medicine because UCD was closing student registration before the appeal outcomes were issued.

It led to a more compressed schedule for the release of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers and an earlier deadline for the submission of appeals, to allow for outcomes to be issued in the week beginning September 16.

The SEC attributes the jump in applications to a number of factors, including its alerts about the changed timelines.

Also, for the first time, candidates had information about how they fared in individual elements of an exam, such as an oral or practical as well as a written paper.


The SEC also believes that the earlier issue of the appeals results may have had an impact on the increased demand.

With the SEC finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the 3,600 or so examiners it needs each year for the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert, questions may also be raised about consistency in marking. Most examiners are experienced and serving teachers, but, on occasion, it has recruited non-teachers with a third-level qualification in a relevant subject.

The SEC robustly defends its standards.

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