The Leaving Cert exam comprises both examinations and accredited grades.
Candidates choose in May whether to sit their examinations, receive accredited grades, or a combination of both on a subject-by-subject basis.
Some 58,342 candidates are entered for the Leaving Certificate and 3,177 candidates are entered for the final year of the Leaving Certificate Applied programme.
On Wednesday 9 June, 55,000 candidates who decided to do the certificate examinations and Leaving Certificate Applied examinations commenced exams.
The examinations will be held in 4,900 examination centres running until Tuesday 29 June for Leaving Certificate and 17 June for the Leaving Certificate Applied programme.
High numbers presenting for exams
Information from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) outlined that 90% of all candidates have indicated their intention to sit examinations in one or more subjects, with almost 40,000 indicating their intention to present for five or more subjects.
The numbers of candidates opting for examinations-only is fewer than 5% of the number of candidates entered for any subject.
The proportion of candidates indicating their intention to sit examinations varies; 8,583 students have registered for the agricultural science exam, 60% of those candidates have opted for both the examination and accredited grades.
The candidate self-service portal to opt for accredited grades closed on 1 May. However, further opportunity to apply will be provided to eligible candidates later in the summer.
Following the Government’s decision on 17 February 2021 and the enactment of the Education (Leaving Certificate 2021) (Accredited Grades) Act, the SEC will operate the Leaving Certificate examinations and the alternative option of accredited grades to ensure a fair system, having regard to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and the loss of learning to this group of students.
The SEC will run the system of examinations and accredited grades and issue candidates with a single set of provisional results which seamlessly integrates both processes.
The Government’s decision of 17 February regarding examinations 2021 included the cancellation of Junior Cycle examinations.
There has been detailed engagement with the public health authorities and all of the stakeholders, through the advisory group on planning for the state examinations 2021, in planning for the delivery and conduct of 2021 Leaving Certificate examinations.
The SEC, with the support and assistance of school authorities, needs to ensure that the Leaving Certificate examinations are held in compliance with public health requirements and also mitigate any risk to examination security and integrity.
SEC chair Pat Burke and his fellow commissioners extend their very best wishes on behalf of the SEC to all Leaving Certificate candidates.
Mr Burke said: “COVID has brought hardship and pain to so many families this year. Leaving Certificate students have also endured additional stresses.
"We hope that the adjustments to the examinations and the system of accredited grades support our students and allow them to move on with their lives.
"For our part, we in the State Examinations Commission will do our utmost to deliver the examinations and the accredited grades as fairly and smoothly as possible in what continue to be challenging times.”
It is intended that the results of the Leaving Certificate examinations and accredited grades will be issued on 3 September 2021, on the candidate self-service portal.