Making the Decision

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Why go back?
Thousands of students every year repeat the Leaving and it can be a productive decision for people who have not attained their CAO points target for a course that they are determined to pursue. Other students who consider repeating include those who realise they want to go to university, but have not completed enough higher-level subjects, or those who have failed to meet an entry requirement for a specific course, such as an honours in Maths for an engineering degree.

The number of subjects that you repeat will depend upon your motivation. Colleges usually accept subject requirements from different years, so if it’s just a case of securing a minimum grade in a specific subject, e. g. Irish, then only that particular subject need be repeated. If it’s an issue of trying to get more points however, then a minimum of six subjects is required, as points are calculated by the results of your six best subjects in one year’s sitting. Students in this instance often take the opportunity to ‘drop’ subjects that they already have a satisfactory result in and are not interested in pursuing again (e. g. English, Irish, Maths), and take up an interesting new topic.

Taking responsibility
Many of the institutions that offer Repeat Leaving Certificate courses recognise that you are not strictly ‘at school’ any more. Students are allowed a greater deal of freedom; there is generally no need for the natty ensemble that is the school uniform and teachers realise that you are taking the exam very seriously. These differences can make the experience of repeating a ‘halfway house’ between school and third-level education, and prepare you for the transition to college life.
Be careful not to repeat the mistakes you made during your first attempt. For example, if you previously left everything until the last minute, make sure that this time you have a strong revision plan. If you gambled and lost on studying only certain curriculum areas the first time around, take this opportunity to make doubly sure that you have covered all possible exam questions. The good news is that the majority of those who repeat the Leaving Certificate do increase their points significantly, in many cases by 200 points or more.

Be honest with yourself before making a commitment to repeating. If you studied hard throughout the year and felt that you did your best in the exams, ask yourself how likely it is that your grades will improve significantly.

Know your options
Whatever choice you make, it’s important to do plenty of research beforehand. If possible, talk to past pupils about their experiences. Ask them relevant questions about classes and study aids. If taking the college route, you should also pay a visit to the college itself to satisfy any queries you might have. It is also a good idea to make an appointment to talk to the principal or a guidance counsellor in the school/college where you intend to repeat. They should be able answer any queries you may have to assist you in your decision, such as information on class sizes, subjects on offer and the average points increase for repeating students at their institutions. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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