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Leaving Cert 2019: Here's how this year's class got on

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 13/08/2019 Garreth MacNamee
a group of people sitting at a table © RollingNews.ie

OVER 55,000 STUDENTS students are receiving their results today as it emerged that five of those young people secured top marks in eight subjects. 

The overall number sitting the exams is 58,787 in 2019. This is the third year the new grading system was brought into play, replacing the old A1/A2 system.

Under the revised scheme, students are graded across 8 grade bands, replacing the previous system where students were graded across 14 bands.

Video: What Leaving Cert tips would you give to your younger self?

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Points are also awarded to candidates who receive a mark of 30-39% on higher level papers, which previously saw no points awarded.

The results

A total of 56,071  students sat the Leaving Cert this year with a further 2,716 (4.6%) candidates following the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme.

The State Examinations Commission has said the results were “generally broadly in line with those obtained in 2018″.

The top six most popular Higher Level subjects taken by students this year were:

    English – 40,217  students
  • Biology – 26,684  students
  • Irish – 23,176 students 
  • Geography – 19,293 students
  • Maths – 18,153 students
  • French – 15,654 students

Top marks in English, Irish and Maths  

In total, 40,217 people took higher level English with 2.9% of them getting the highest grade popular – the exact same percentage as last year. 

Over 23,000 took top level Irish with 5.7% getting top marks.

Mark Berney at Gorey Community College, County Wexford holding a copy of his Leaving Cert results with 9 A1s printed on it.   (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Images Mark Berney at Gorey Community College, County Wexford holding a copy of his Leaving Cert results with 9 A1s printed on it. (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Images via Getty Images)

Just over 18,000 took honours Maths with 6% getting maximum points.

Out of the 55,000 students: 

    Five received eight H1s
  • 61 received seven H1s
  • 235 received six H1s
  • 526 received five H1s
  • 1,035 received four H1s
  • 1,820 received three H1s
  • 3,391 received two H1s
  • 7,639 received one H1

Across the languages, the number of people taking French, Spanish and German remained largely the same. 

In French, there were more students getting top marks with 6.2% achieving the grade and just 0.6% failed. 

Over 6,000 took German with 6.1% getting a H1 – but 2% failed. 

There were 5,646 Spanish students – 7.7% got top marks with 1.5% failing – the failure rate is almost double that of last year. 

Other subjects

The was a huge drop in the number of students earning top marks in Higher Level Biology – with 7% getting the H1 mark this year compared to 11.3% in 2018.

In History, 6.7% of students earned a H1 grade and in Geography the figure is 3.7%.

A total of 54 students took Latin this year with 18.% getting the H1, 17 took ancient Greek and just 31 took Agricultural Economics – with nobody receiving the top grade. 

Alcohol warning

Charities as well as drinks industry groups have called on parents to discuss alcohol misuse with their children prior to them getting their results. 

Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, are appealing to parents to talk to their school-leaving children about alcohol habits as they begin their journey into college life.

a group of people sitting in front of a building: Ciara Curly Zoey Kennedy Melissa Byrne Suzanne Day Charlotte Byrne and Bronagh King react to good results in their school Maryfield College after receiving their Leaving Cert results last year. © Sam Boal Ciara Curly Zoey Kennedy Melissa Byrne Suzanne Day Charlotte Byrne and Bronagh King react to good results in their school Maryfield College after receiving their Leaving Cert results last year.

With over a third (34%) of under-25s reporting binge drinking on a weekly basis (six or more standard drinks in one sitting) and 64% of under-25s claiming that they use drink as a coping mechanism, it’s important that parents have an open and honest conversation with their young people about alcohol and prevent alcohol misuse in late-teens, early twenties and into later life.

Research from the Drinkaware Index 2019 showed 27% of adults were introduced to alcohol by a parent or close relative. Similarly, 18% were first introduced to alcohol in the home.

Sheena Horgan, CEO of Drinkaware, said: “Ahead of the Leaving Cert results celebrations and college offers, it’s important that parents engage with their young people and advocate for sober curiosity or a more mindful attitude to alcohol. We are appealing to parents to discuss post-results plans together with their children and provide them with practical knowledge and advice on how they can celebrate this achievement in a safe environment.”

Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) advised those receiving their results that the Leaving Cert is not “a final destination” and urged them to consider continuing their education in areas that they find most interesting and engaging.

The union highlighted the significant range of options available through the apprenticeship system or in Further Education colleges around the country.

TUI President Seamus Lahart said: “We extend congratulations to students on receiving their results today. The great majority will find that their hard work and diligence has paid off. However, those who may be disappointed with their results should in no way lose hope. Learning and education is a lifelong pursuit and there have never been more avenues open to pursue a chosen course and career.

“In this regard, students should strongly consider apprenticeship options across an ever-expanding range of areas, which can lead to fulfilling and successful careers. In addition to third level options in Institutes of Technology and Universities, students should also consider the wide breadth of choices in Further Education/Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) colleges around the country.”

Fianna Fáil’s James Browne urged students to open up about result day stress. Browne, who is the party’s spokesman on mental health, said the lead up to results day can be a stressful period, in particular if a student already suffers with anxiety or other mental health issues.

He said: “To complete the Leaving Cert is a great achievement, and for many this is the start of an exciting new chapter in their lives. For others it’s a particularly stressful time and can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

“Unfortunately, exams do not always go to plan, and it’s important to speak openly if this happens. Do not bottle up your feelings or allow despair to take over. There are plenty of people who are only too willing to listen and offer advice.”

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