Billy Ryle: Friday Deadline Looms For Leaving Cert Students

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Guidance Counsellor Billy Ryle says it’s last chance Friday for Leaving Certs to complete the application form and to finalise subject levels for accredited grades…

Applying for the Leaving Cert exam is usually straight forward.  But this year, because of Covid-19 uncertainty, it’s a three phased process.

Initially, students entered for the exam. They were then asked for preliminary choices in Phase One and they now have to firm up those choices in Phase Two by next Friday.

Continued below…


Last March, the Leaving Cert Candidate Self Service Portal (CSSP) – Phase One allowed students to create an account and make preliminary choices in each of their subjects in the written exams and accredited grades.

88% opted for written exams and accredited grades in one or more subjects. 7% opted for accredited grades only, while 2% decided to sit the written exam only.

3% of candidates did not indicate any choice, but now have a final opportunity to do so when the CSSP Portal – Phase Two opens from 12 noon on Tuesday, 27th April to 6pm on Friday, 30th April.

All students must now review, finalise and confirm their subject levels and choice of written exams, accredited grades or both, for each subject they have entered, before Friday’s closing date.

Students will be allowed to change their subject level on the day of the written exams in June, but the subject levels selected for accredited grades can’t be changed after Friday’s deadline.

All students must complete the Phase Two process even if their choices have not changed since March.

Students, who did not register on the Portal in Phase One now have a final opportunity to complete the registration process and to make their final subject level choices.

A student guide to this phase of the Portal is now available on A CSSP helpline is also available on 1800-111135 or 1800-111136.

While the Portal remains open, students have all the options that they had in March other than being able to add new subjects.

To ensure that their decisions are correctly recorded, all students are required to review the options they made in each subject and make a final decision as to whether they want accredited grades, sit the exams or both.

They are required to review the subject level (Higher, Ordinary, Foundation) which they initially selected and confirm or change this level. They can also withdraw from any subject which they are no longer studying.

It’s vital to note that this is the final opportunity for students to indicate the subject level at which accredited grades will be awarded.

When the Portal closes, the accredited grade levels will be locked in and cannot be changed as teachers will have started the estimation process. Students who sit the exam will be allowed to change subject level on the day of the exam.

In any subject where a student sits the exam and also opts to receive accredited grades, they will be credited with the better of the two results.

Students selecting exams only should be aware that an accredited grade will only be available to them if they cannot sit the exam in June due to unforeseen circumstances.

Students, who sit the exam in a subject and have not opted for an accredited grade, will be provided with the exam result only and will not have access to the accredited grade.

For that reason, I am strongly advising all students to register for accredited grades as that approach guarantees them a Leaving Cert result.

Schools have been provided with details of the choices made by students following Phase One and have been asked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to review the details in order to assist students with their final decision making.

Schools have also been provided with details of the students who did not register on Phase One or who registered but did not make their selections. Schools have been asked to ensure that all students complete the process by Friday and to assist any student, who needs help.

That is a welcome development as 1,703 Leaving Certs and 318 Leaving Cert Applied students, who initially entered for the Leaving Cert did not complete Phase One.

These are worrying statistics as most of these young people are likely to be disadvantaged and may have lacked the necessary supports during a fragmented school year.

One hopes that every possible effort will be made to convince them to sign up for, at least, the accredited grades before Friday’s closing date. A Leaving Cert, no matter how modest, is a passport to further progress in education and work.

• Billy Ryle is a Career Guidance Counsellor and Educational Commentator

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