The Evolution of Leaving Certificate Assessments: Anticipating the Changes in 2025

In a world where education and examination standards are rapidly evolving, Ireland’s Leaving Certificate is no exception. The changes slated for the Leaving Certificate in 2025 represent a significant pivot in Irish secondary education, aimed at realigning the assessment standards to pre-pandemic norms. This article delves into the upcoming changes and what they mean for students, particularly the class of 2025. 

The Landscape of Change

Since the onset of the pandemic, grading distributions for the Leaving Certificate have seen an unprecedented increase. In an effort to mitigate the educational disruptions caused by the pandemic, grade inflations were implemented to help students navigate the uncertain times. However, with a return to normalcy on the horizon, the Minister of Education, Norma Foley, announced a structured plan to recalibrate the grading system starting from 2025. 

The planned grade distribution will decrease from 7% above the 2019 levels in 2024 to 5.5% in 2025. This adjustment aims to not only standardize grading but also address the competitive imbalance between the Leaving Certificate and its international equivalents, such as the UK’s A Levels and the International Baccalaureate, which have already started reverting to pre-pandemic grading scales. 

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Implications for University Admissions

This recalibration is expected to significantly affect university admissions, particularly through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Traditionally, students could re-apply using their previous year’s grades, but with the planned reductions, students from the class of 2025 will face stiffer competition not only from their peers but also from students from previous years who benefitted from higher grades. 

Moreover, the adjustment is aimed at reducing the number of courses requiring maximum points for admission, which currently forces a random selection process even among top-performing students. The change hopes to make admissions a more equitable process and align the Leaving Certificate more closely with global standards. 

Strategic Preparation for Students

For students set to take their exams in 2025, understanding and adapting to these changes will be crucial. They will need to approach their preparation with a clear strategy, focusing on mastering the curriculum to achieve the best possible outcome under the new grading system. 

Educational support services and tools, such as MyFutureChoice’s programmes, can play a pivotal role in helping students navigate these changes. Services like MyCareerChoices and MyAptitude provide personalized guidance and insights, helping students align their academic efforts with their future university and career aspirations. 

How MyFutureChoice Programmes Support Irish Students

As the educational landscape shifts with the upcoming changes to the Leaving Certificate, the need for robust, supportive programmes to aid students in navigating these changes is more crucial than ever. MyFutureChoice offers a range of programmes that cater specifically to the needs of students during this transitional time, particularly through EirQuest and MyUniChoices. These tools are designed to support students in Ireland from transition year through to making informed decisions about higher education. 


EirQuest: Navigating Transition Year

EirQuest is particularly beneficial during a student’s transition year, which is a formative period aimed at helping students make educational decisions that align with their future aspirations. This programme supports students in discovering their interests and potential career paths through a comprehensive and engaging approach. By taking into account each student’s unique aptitudes and interests, EirQuest provides personalised insights that guide students in selecting subjects and activities that will enhance their academic and career trajectories. This tailored approach is vital as students prepare to meet the demands of the revised Leaving Certificate examinations. 

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MyUniChoices: Streamlining University and Course Selection

As students approach the end of their secondary education, making decisions about higher education becomes paramount. MyUniChoices emerges as an invaluable tool for those considering their university options. This programme simplifies the complex process of selecting a university and course by analysing a student’s interests, academic strengths, and career inclinations through a detailed questionnaire. The resulting recommendations help students identify the best fit for their higher education journey, ensuring that their choices align with their academic achievements and career goals. 

This programme is especially pertinent in light of the Leaving Certificate changes, as it helps students make informed choices in an increasingly competitive environment. By providing insights into over 48,800 courses at 772 institutions worldwide, MyUniChoices not only aids in the application process but also enhances the chances of admission success by aligning students’ profiles with appropriate courses. 

What next?

As the Central Applications Office opens its Change of Mind facility in May 2024, students will have the opportunity to reconsider their university applications based on these impending changes. It’s a critical time for students to reflect on their choices and ensure that their course selections align with their long-term educational goals. 

The shift in the Leaving Certificate grading system is a necessary step towards maintaining the integrity and competitiveness of Irish secondary education on a global scale. For the students of 2025, this may well be a challenging transition, but with the right preparation and support, it also offers a chance to excel under a more rigorous and equitable assessment system.