Leaving Cert Computer Science to be held before all other exams

Katie Lowry

The State Examination Commission (SEC) has decided to set the Leaving Cert Computer Science exam on May 27th, ahead of the usual exam period. 

40 pilot schools are set to begin the exams in May instead of the traditional start in early June in a moved designed to avoid any exam clashes.

Hundreds of students will attempt the first ever Leaving Cert Computer Science exam. The subject, which is currently only available for a specific pilot group, will be rolled out nationally across schools in Ireland in September 2020 for examination in 2022.

Students must complete a practical coursework project on a computer, totalling 30% of the student’s overall grade.

This is followed by a final exam where the student must partake in a written and computer-based test, collectively worth 70% of the total marks. The use of computers makes this the first exam of its kind in Ireland.

The SEC will examine all elements of the subject externally.

Equipment and infrastructure played a huge part in selecting the schools where the first phase of subject roll-out took place. Pilot schools were given €3,000 to buy new equipment.

Ollie Cosgrove, a computer science teacher working in Terenure College, one of these pilot schools, said students were positive about the subject and there was “no issue with the exam being on earlier.” This subject is likely to provide difficulties to schools who have outdated computers or inefficient wi-fi.

Cosgrove went on to say the only issue is the lack of a syllabus and “the specification provided does not give enough information for a high stakes exam.”

Employers made it clear that there was a lack of skills in the STEM sector which resulted in a push for this new subject.  The impact of computing technology on the world and how programming and computational thinking can help with problem solving are core elements taught in the course.

Katie Lowry

Image Credit: Sonja Tutty