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Would Leaving Cert Applied be right for me?

Learn about Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) and what's involved


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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Leaving Cert Applied is a two year programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life. The Leaving Cert Applied is often taken by senior-level school students who feel the traditional Leaving Certificate isn't for them, but who still want to continue with school and prepare for life after they leave.

What is the difference between the Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied?

Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) is split into four half-year sessions, with more emphasis on continuous assessment instead of the end of year exams.

This is different to the Leaving Cert which focuses on the final exams taken at the end of two years (5th and 6th year).

What is involved in LCA?

The different elements of the LCA include vocational preparation and general education, taken as modules at different times over the two years.

Vocational preparation

Vocational preparation involves:

  • Work experience
  • Applying maths in everyday life
  • IT and computers
  • Communication

General education

General education involves gaining skills and knowledge in areas such as:

  • Life skills
  • The arts (dance, drama, craft and design, etc.)
  • Social education
  • Active leisure studies
  • Language
  • Hair and beauty
  • Engineering
  • Childcare
  • Find a full list of modules here.

Speak to your school to find out what modules are available to you as part of LCA.

Earning credits

You will earn credits for the work you do in each half-year session. There are final exams that take place in June - the same time as the regular Leaving Cert exams - but your grades will not depend entirely on those exams because you will have built up credits during the year.

What exams are involved in LCA?

The exams that are taken as part of the LCA include:

  • English and communication
  • Two vocational specialisations (practical exams)
  • Mathematical applications
  • Language (written and oral in all languages)
  • Social education

Grading for the LCA

The grading of the Leaving Cert Applied is broken down into:

  • Pass (60-69 %)
  • Merit (70-84 %)
  • Distinction (85-100 %)

The pass grade is equal to 6 D grades in Ordinary Level in the Leaving Cert.

How do I apply for LCA?

If you would like to do the LCA, you will need to speak to a teacher at your school and let them know you're interested. Your school will forward your information to the State Exams Commission and make the arrangements.

If a traditional school setting isn't for you, it is possible to do the LCA through some Youthreach centres also. Find out more about Youthreach here.

Is there a fee to do LCA?

The LCA fee for €116 but if you have a medical card or you are dependent on a parent who has a medical card, you may be exempt. 

You may need to pay for additional materials such as books and stationary.

What can I do after LCA?

LCA prepares you to move on to further education or to find work after you've completed the course.

Further education

Students who do LCA can continue on to Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses to gain more knowledge and skills in a certain area. You can find out more about PLC courses here

If going college and getting a degree is something you'd like to work towards, you will not be able to go straight into a degree course after LCA. However, doing a PLC course can offer opportunities to progress onto university or college.

Finding work

After your LCA, you might feel ready to begin applying for jobs. Doing an apprenticeship to gain knowledge and skills in an area you want to work in could also be an option.

Visit Compass, created by SpunOut.ie to help you discover your path to employment.

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Published July 29th, 2013
Last updated August 20th, 2018
Tags leaving cert leaving cert applied school
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

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