This is a tough one to answer for a few reasons, but let's look into it as best can. More than 3,000 Irish students repeat the Leaving Cert every year.
The first question we have to ask is why.
Why are you thinking about repeating the leaving cert?
"I failed my exams and my driving test. I failed to get into the Foreign Office and drama school. The big F was dominant in my early years."
- Ben Fogle
Most Common Reasons People Repeat The Leaving Cert
Choosing to repeat your Leaving Certificate is no small decision, and unfortunately, you don't get very long to make it.
For some Irish students, it may seem like the worse thing in the world, and for others, it’s an opportunity to show you can do better and achieve your goals.
The majority of these students repeat because they are unhappy with the results they gained the first time around, and feel they can do better. Some students only repeat one or two subjects (e.g. Maths or English) to get a grade they need for a particular course, which can make the year feel very very long.
Some of the reasons people repeat the Leaving Cert include:
- Missing out on a CAO course by a few points
- Failing Maths or English
- Missing time due to illness
- Feeling too young for college
- Not giving your studies enough attention the first time around.
People who are considering repeating should think long and hard about this decision. It takes up a full year of your life, and there is obviously no guarantee that you will get the desired results the second time around. The numbers repeating their Leaving have dropped in recent years, as more and more options are now available to students.
For example, even if you have not made the points for a degree course, it is now possible to take a higher certificate course and then move on to a degree later. Repeating the Leaving Cert rarely seems like fun for those who have just finished their sixth year.
Who Should Repeat The Leaving Cert?
If you have your heart set on getting those CAO points, or you really, really want to prove to yourself that you can do better the second time around. Then maybe repeating the Leaving Cert could be the choice for you.
But first and foremost, don’t decide to repeat until you get your Leaving Cert results. A lot of people panic after exams and decide they won’t get their college course before they even know how they did. Forget about your exams once you've finished them until the results come in. Once you find that out then you can make a choice.
You need to be more determined than ever if you decide to repeat.
The last thing you want to do is start the Leaving Cert again only to give up halfway through. You must also be organised and prepared to study harder. There is no point in doing it all over again only to come out with much the same result.
If you're going to go through the whole year a gain it's also a good idea to set yourself smaller goals! They don’t need huge deadlines but aim for certain grades in your subjects or for a certain number of points maybe. Your goals should be specific to you.
"You don't have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream."
- Michael Dell
Do I Have to Repeat the Leaving Cert?
No. That's the simple answer.
Do you have to repeat the Leaving Cert to get into college? No.
Do you have to repeat the Leaving Cert to gain a Qualification? No.
Do you have to repeat the Leaving Cert to study medicine someday...? No. (Didn't see that one coming did you?)
You see, if you're not in a rush for everything to happen right now or even in the next 5 years, everything is possible (Even becoming a Doctor, with less the CAO requirements).
Use your youth for what it was intended. Explore the world. Make new friends on different continents and try out different jobs and short courses. Take that gap year!
Because even if you do a QQI and study medicine as a mature student with an HPAT-Ireland entry exam. Or maybe you don't want to travel the world, maybe you're going straight to a College of Further Education and taking a 2-year QQI course in Sports and Business Management so that in the end you are qualified to open and run your GYM. Or maybe it's Beauty school and Business Management.
How about Pre-Law? You could take a link course and go straight into your second year of environmental law at a University linked to your college.
Advice for Leaving Cert Students
Exams can add even more weight during school and college. Exam stress is the feeling of tension and worry that comes from test-taking situations. It is normal to feel some stress about upcoming tests, exams, papers or presentations. Indeed, a small amount of stress can challenge you and stimulate you to work harder.
However it's when that stress causes you to worry more, experience anxiety or depression, lose sleep, become forgetful, irritable, overwhelmed, exhausted and feel out of control. This can really impact your ability to prepare for your assignments and exams, as well as negatively affect your levels of performance and sense of wellbeing.
What Helps with Exam Stress?
Believe it or not, there are actually a few things for a student to try that can help alleviate some of that exam stress.
Keep a routine and take regular breaks!
It's important to have regular study breaks and make time for relaxation and exercise.
Some people find that practising mindfulness helps you focus on what's happening right at this moment. For others physical activities such as taking a walk, running, or to the gym are not a waste of time, they let you blow off some steam. Some people prefer to zone out and play a console game or read a book, taking a break from reality is a great way to clear your head.
Look after yourself!
I cannot emphasise this point enough, your health is more important than any exam. You can always repeat or take an alternative route to University.
It's easy to let exams get on top of you and to forget to look after yourself. If possible, try to get as close to 8 hours of sleep as you can every night. Lots of people would be at you to eat healthily, but I just want you to remember to eat regular meals. That beautiful brain can't feed itself.
Keep hydrated, the less you drink the more tired, sad and irritated you become, not to mention those study headaches! A coffee or two is fine to start the day but really it should be water all day! Water helps your brain cells communicate with each other, clears out toxins and waste that impairs brain function, and carries nutrients to your brain.
Please. Remember, someone is always here to listen, someone is going through what you are too, and lots of people care about you! If you need to chat or some guidance find a coach on Superprof.ie
The platform that connects tutors and students