16 August, 2017 - Ministers Bruton, Halligan and Mitchell O’Connor Congratulate students receiving their Leaving Certificate Results

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, together with Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, and Minister of State John Halligan TD, today (Wednesday 16th August) send their warm congratulations to the 58,543 Leaving Certificate students and adult learners who received their Leaving Certificate examination results.

Minister Bruton said:

“Today is a watershed moment for the class of 2017 as their school lives draw to a close. It is a time to celebrate the end of a very important period in their lives, and to recognise the massive contribution of teachers, parents and friends who helped along the way.

“In the eighteen years of their lives, the class of 2017 have lived through boom and bust. The students getting their results today can be confident that we have built the recovery on firm foundations with over 200,000 extra new jobs created since we launched the Action Plan for Jobs.

“For the class of 2017 there are more pathways than ever before to help you to achieve your potential. There is a wide range of opportunities in the further education and training sector, including traineeships and apprenticeships, as well as in the third level sector.

“The government is committed to building a Republic of Opportunity and that means making sure everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. I am expanding the present apprenticeship and traineeship system significantly, so that it will cover all major economic sectors, as well as doubling enrolments to 14,000 by 2020.

“For students who may not have done as well as they might have hoped, take time to consider all the options which are available and can lead you to your chosen career. Whatever your results today – there will be opportunities for you.

“I would like to thank the State Examinations Commission for its work in ensuring the smooth running of the exams and the work involved in implementing the new Grading system.”

Minister Bruton welcomed a number of improving trends, including:

  • The increase in students taking Mathematics at Higher Level. This is now at 30%, up from 28% in 2016, and is at the target for 2020 set out in the National Strategy on Literacy and Numeracy (2011-2020).
  • The increase in the number of students taking Chemistry as a Leaving Certificate subject, with the number of candidates increasing by some 16% since 2013, from 8,156 to 9,468.
  • The number of students opting for Higher Level papers has seen a marked increase from last year. In examinations that are offered at more than one level, there was an increase of 3.2% in the proportion taken at Higher Level.
  • A 4% increase in the number of students taking German in the Leaving Certificate

2017 is the first year in which the new Leaving Certificate Grading System will apply.  The new grading system has 8 grade bands, reduced from the previous 14 bands.  The Common Points Scale used by Higher Education Institutions to determine entry to higher education has been revised to reflect the new grading system. All students who have applied through the Central Applications Office (CAO) this year will be scored using the new points system.  The new grading system is designed to help to reduce the pressure on students at exam time and enable a broader more rounded learning experience and to encourage ambition.  Partly as a result of the new grading system, which now awards CAO points to students who achieve between 30 and 39 per cent in higher level papers (the new H7 grade), there has been an increase in participation rates at higher level across almost all subjects.

This year, 58,543 students sat the Leaving Certificate, taking either the Leaving Certificate Established, Leaving Certificate Vocational or Leaving Certificate Applied programme. This compares to 58,465 in 2016. The 15 subjects with the highest participation rates are unchanged from last year, but with a slight change in the order, due to the increased popularity of Chemistry and German. The list remains topped by Mathematics, English and Irish.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

Minister Mitchell O’Connor congratulated students receiving their leaving certificate results today.

“As Minister for Higher Education and as a former teacher and school principal, I have spent most of my career guiding and supporting young people and their families on their journey through education, towards the Leaving Certificate. I have experienced at first hand the huge effort and commitment by our young people to reach this milestone in their lives.  I also want to send my particular congratulations to those inspirational mature students, who have returned to education, on their Leaving Certificate achievement. 

Minister Halligan said:

“Minister Halligan congratulated each student on their achievement and pointed to the work of the Department in opening up new avenues of learning to assist students in building on the skills and knowledge they have developed throughout their Senior Cycle.

“Under the Action Plan for Education we are committed to doubling the number enrolled in apprenticeships by 2020. In 2017, the Department has committed €20 million in additional funding for apprenticeship and trainee programmes. By the end of this year, new programmes are scheduled to get underway in various sectors, such as financial services, accounting and hospitality. Whatever your results and interests, there will be something out there for you.”

The Ministers concluded by saying that they hoped that students getting their results will take the time to celebrate with their friends sensibly and wished them well in the future.

A Leaving Certificate Exam Helpline, run by the National Parents Council – Post-Primary, will open on Wednesday 16th August at 10.00 and will provide advice to students and parents regarding the examination results. The Helpline, which receives support from the Department of Education and Skills, can be contacted at 1800 265 165. It will remain open until August 23th.

Notes for Editors

Changes to the Leaving Certificate Grading Bands and Common Points Scale introduced this year.

The Leaving Certificate Examination and the Common Points Scale in 2017 differ in two ways from previous years. 

Change 1:

The new grading scale now has 8 grade bands whereas previously there were 14 grade bands. 

New Leaving Certificate Grading Bands:

H1 / O1≥ 90 and ≤ 100.
H2 / O2≥ 80 and < 90
H3 / O3≥ 70 and < 80
H4 / O4≥ 60 and < 70
H5 / O5≥ 50 and < 60
H6 / O6≥ 40 and < 50
H7 / O7≥ 30 and < 40
H8 / O8≥   0 and < 30

Under the old grading system, where the grades (other than A1) were 5 points apart,  there was more pressure towards learning off material which students thought will come up in the examination, to gain a few additional marks and not properly engaging with the subject and improving the quality of their own learning and achievement. The new grading system, with broader grade bands, will ease the pressure on students to achieve marginal gains in examinations, and encourage more substantial engagement with each subject.

Change 2:

As a result of the changes to the Leaving Certificate Grading System, the Common Points Scale used by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to determine entry has been revised to reflect these changes.  It remains the position that the six best scores, in recognised subjects, in one Leaving Certificate Examination will be counted for points computation for higher education entry.  The new system, which awards points to students who achieve a H7 grade (between 30 and 39 percentage mark), is designed to encourage students who are considering taking a higher level paper. Under the previous grading scale no points were awarded to students who achieved less than 40 percentage marks in higher level papers.

Revised Common Points Scale for entry into Higher Education

Higher Level  Ordinary Level  
New Grades% MarksNew Points AwardedNew Grades% MarksNew Points Awarded
H1≥ 90 and≤ 100100   
H2≥ 80 and < 9088   
H3≥ 70 and < 8077   
H4≥ 60 and < 7066   
H5≥ 50 and < 6056O1≥ 90 and ≤ 100.56
H6≥ 40 and < 5046O2≥ 80 and < 9046
H7≥ 30 and < 4037O3≥ 70 and < 8037
H8≥   0 and < 300O4≥ 60 and < 7028
   O5≥ 50 and < 6020
   O6≥ 40 and < 5012
   O7≥ 30 and < 400
   O8≥   0 and < 300

The new Leaving Certificate Grading System will also apply to Leaving Certificate Foundation Level subjects. Students may take foundation level papers in two subjects, Mathematics and Irish. In the same manner as for subjects at Higher and Ordinary level the existing 14-band grading scale for these two Foundation Level subjects will be replaced with a new 8-band scale, F1 to F8. Certain Higher Education Institutions recognise Foundation Level Mathematics grades for the purposes of admission to higher education. Under the revised common points scale for entry into higher education, 20 points will be allocated to students who achieve a Mathematics Foundation Level grade F1, and 12 points to students who achieve a grade F2. These points correspond to the points awarded for an achievement of Ordinary Level grades O5 and O6 respectively. No points will be awarded for Foundation Level grades below F2.