Are you thinking about repeating the Leaving Cert?

Having repeated the Leaving Cert, Nathan has some advice on what to consider if you’re thinking of repeating.

Written by Nathan O'Regan


Choosing to repeat your Leaving Certificate is no easy feat. For some it may seem like the worse thing in the world, but for others it’s an opportunity to show you can do better and achieve your goals. I was the latter when I decided to repeat my Leaving Certificate almost two years ago. To say it was a tough journey would be an understatement. That said it was definitely the best decision I ever made and it led me to my dream college course today.

Here is my advice if you’re considering repeating the Leaving Cert.

Deciding to Repeat?

First and foremost, don’t decide to repeat until you get your Leaving Certificate results. Lots 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 in June. There’s nothing you can do until August. If you’re disappointed once you get your results then it’s time to lay out all your options. Wait and see what offer you get from the CAO. You’ve listed your choices in order of preference for a reason. Hopefully you’ll get an offer you want and you’ll be happy to take it. If not though there are a number of other options.

Look into PLC courses for starters. Lots of PLC courses give you a fantastic foundation. Many PLC colleges have links with third level institutions so that you can move into a Level 7 or Level 8 course once you’ve completed your PLC course. This might be a better option than repeating because you’ll be studying something you have an interest in and it lays the foundation for your future studies. If PLC colleges are not the right choice for you, then maybe start looking into repeating.

You need to be incredibly determined before you decide to repeat. The last thing you want to do is start the Leaving Certificate again only to give up halfway through. You must also be determined to do better. There is no point in doing it all over again only to come out with much the same result.

Set yourself goals!

They don’t need to be about specific course but aim for certain grades in your subjects or for a certain number of points maybe. Your goals are specific to you. Repeating the Leaving Cert is definitely a tough journey. It can take a lot to sit studying at your desk for another year while many of your friends are off in college having fun. If you think you can suffer another year of exam papers, definitions and stay determined until next June well then I think you’re ready to repeat.

Where should I repeat?

Deciding where you should repeat is the next step. Depending on where you live in the country you might have three possible options:

  1. Go back to your old school,
  2. Go to a new school.
  3. Go to a Further Education College and participate in a Repeat Leaving Certificate course.

Going back to your own school is good because you’re already familiar with the school and its rules. You may even have friends in the year below you. If you go to a new school it may allow for a fresh start which might be exactly what you need.

I went to a PLC college and participated in a Repeat Leaving Certificate course. This was by far the best option for me. It almost feels like you’re in college because you don’t have a uniform, you have more freedom with your studies and you’re treated like an adult. It’s also great being around other repeat students who are going through the same experience as you. You can support each other and guide one another through the tough times. PLC colleges also tend to offer a great range of subjects and much more flexible timetables than schools can offer. This is a huge advantage.

In the end your performance will depend on you much more so than your environment. So weigh up the benefits of each option to you personally taking any costs into consideration and go wherever suits you best.

What subjects should I do?

The great thing about repeating is that there is no need to retake the subjects you passed for college enrolment during your first leaving cert. So this means if you passed maths, English, Irish, a science or a third language the first time you do not need to resist it the second time to meet university requirements. This is a huge benefit to many people who might wish to drop Irish or maths, for example, so they can focus on their other subjects. My advice would be to do 7 subjects for your Leaving Cert. Some would prefer to do 6 but I’m a firm believer that it’s useful to have a ‘back-up’ subject if anything ever goes wrong. What if you slept in and missed an exam one day? Having 7 means if something goes wrong at least you still have 6 subjects for your points. Many people decide to take up a new subject during their repeat leaving cert. If it is a subject you’re interested in then I believe there’s no reason not to take it up but be cautious as it’s likely to be a lot of work. If there’s a project involved you’ll need to have a teacher to sign off on your work too so you can’t do the subject alone.

A few last nuggets of advice: Repeating the Leaving Cert is definitely not easier than doing it the first time around. There is a myth that you’ve learned it all before so you just have to learn a bit extra to do better. But in reality, you’ll have forgotten much of what you’ve learned from last year and you’ll have lots of revision to do throughout your repeat year.

So if you think repeating is the option for you, then go for it! Be sure that you’re determined and willing to put in the effort for another full academic year. If you are, you’ll be sure to achieve your goals.

Best of luck with it!

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