Billy Ryle: It’s Time For A Decision On The State Exams

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It’s time to decide whether to go ahead or to postpone, but not to cancel the State Exams says Guidance Counsellor Billy Ryle…

To be or not to be? That is the question being asked by over 125,000 anxious and stressed Leaving Cert (LC), Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) and Junior Cert (JC) state exam candidates.

Are the remaining practical exams going ahead on 27th April? Are the written exams going ahead on 3rd June? Are the exams being postponed to a later date? Are the exams being cancelled?

The oral and practical tests which were due to take place from 23rd March to 3rd April were already cancelled and full marks were awarded to all candidates.

From Monday 27th April to Friday 8th May, the timetable includes practical exams in Leaving Certificate Art Life Sketching, Engineering, Construction Studies, and Junior Cycle Metalwork.

Continued below…


There are also final exams during May in LCVP Link Modules (Wednesday, 6th May), Leaving Certificate Applied ICT (Wednesday, 13th May) and Leaving Certificate Computer Science (Wednesday, 27th May).

Cancelling oral and practical components of the State Exams puts the integrity of the exams and the CAO college offers process at risk.

It would be fairer to postpone rather than cancel any exam components. If the health care specialists recommend that the exams should not go ahead in June, there will be adequate time in July to complete all written, practical and oral components of the Leaving Cert exam.

Candidates are unlikely to be travelling abroad this year and there won’t be a great deal of holiday work available. That option will end all the uncertainty, which candidates are faced with at present.

Even if the results of the Leaving Cert and the CAO college offers are issued a month later than usual, it will be worth it if every contingency step is transparent and fair to all candidates.

Normally, young people would be enjoying the Easter Holiday break before returning to school for the final term. But the times in which we live are abnormal and uncertain as the country battles the Coronavirus pandemic.

Schools remain closed for five weeks and students are studying at home. The situation is now very urgent for state exam candidates, who have missed vital weeks in school.

If schools don’t reopen on Monday, 20th April, they may remain closed until early May. In those circumstances, exam candidates can hardly be expected to be emotionally at ease or knowledge ready to sit these crucial exams, as scheduled in June.

After weeks of home study, exam candidates are feeling the pressure. They are finding it very difficult to maintain their focus and motivation.

They are suffering from cabin fever and an overload of virtual learning. Structured home study has become far more challenging with the country in lockdown and more family members house bound.

Outdoor physical exercise is confined to 2km from home and social interaction is limited.

The country is now in the second week of restrictive actions in the response to Covid-19. That period may be extended further depending on the advice of the health care specialists.

If that happens, it’s highly likely that schools will not reopen on Monday, 20th April. Over 125,000 exam candidates can no longer be left in limbo. It’s time for a decision on the state exams.


• The State Examinations Commission (SEC) runs the second-level exams
• Schools are due to reopen on Monday, 20th April
• The remaining practical exams begin on Monday, 27th April
• The LCVP Link Modules written exam is on Wednesday, 6th May
• The Leaving Certificate Applied ICT exam is on Wednesday, 13th May
• The Leaving Certificate Computer Science exam is on Wednesday, 27th May
• The written exams are due to begin on Wednesday, 3rd June
• After weeks of isolated home study, exam candidates are anxious and stressed
• Candidates are suffering from cabin fever and an overload of virtual learning
• With more family members confined to home, it’s more difficult to study
• Firm decisions about state exams need to be taken by 20th April
• Are the remaining practical exams going ahead on Monday, 27th April?
• Are the written exams going ahead on Wednesday, 3rd June?
• Are the state exams being postponed to a later date?
• Are the state exams being cancelled?
• Exam timetables are available on

• Billy Ryle is a Career Guidance Counsellor/Educational Commentator

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