Junior Certificate

Introduction

The Junior Certificate examination is held at the end of the Junior Cycle in post-primary schools. The Junior Cycle caters for students aged from 12 to 15 years and students normally sit the exam at the age of 14 or 15, after 3 years of post-primary education. However, the Junior Certificate is not limited to post-primary school students.

A candidate following an approved course of study outside the State or who is attending an approved course of study organised under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme, adult literacy and community education schemes, the Back to Education scheme or a similar scheme, may also sit the exams. You can get more information about continuing education.

Changes to the Junior Cycle

The Junior Certificate will be replaced with the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) on a phased basis. There is a classroom-based component to the assessment which is based on work completed by the student during second and third year.

Students in second year sit standardised tests in Maths and English reading (or Irish reading in Irish-medium schools). Standardised testing in Science is also included. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is developing a new report card for parents which will give them much more information about their child’s learning progress. More information about the changes to the Junior Cycle is available on the Department of Education’s website.

COVID-19 and the Junior Certificate in 2020

Schools will fully reopen at the start of the new school year - end of August 2020.

The Department of Education and Skills will award all third year Junior Cycle students a certificate of completion of the Junior Cycle. You will get your certificate early in the next school year. Your certificate will list your subjects, short courses and priority learning units and the level at which you studied them.

Adult learners and early school leavers, who left school after Junior Cycle 2020, can take their final Junior Cycle exams in November 2020. These exams will only be available to students who meet specific qualifying criteria – not all students. The exam will be written only and will be scheduled for evenings and at weekends.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) will publish detailed information about the postponed exam timetable, logistics and how students can apply to sit an exam

Find out more about the assessment of the Junior Cycle in 2020.

Exam fees

Students do not have to pay Junior Certificate 2020 examination fees. Students who paid exam fees have been refunded.

Junior Certificate 2020-2021

The Junior Certificate 2020-2021 exams will have a reduced number of classroom assessments. Dates for completion of some elements of the assessments have been extended into the new school year. You can get full details of subject and module changes in the Department of Education’s Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021.

Rules

The Junior Certificate School Programme

The Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) has been designed to help young people who are at risk of leaving school early and who would benefit from special support when they are working towards the Junior Certificate.

Schools that offer the programme are given extra resources in order to facilitate teachers to develop a team approach to supporting the students.

Students taking the Junior Certificate examination study the normal Junior Certificate syllabus. All students participating in the Junior Certificate School Programme must be entered for the Junior Certificate examination. All JCSP students are entitled to a profile - this is an individualised record of their achievement. This profile is in addition to the Junior Certificate.

A review of the Junior Certificate School Programme is currently underway.

Junior Certificate subjects

There is a wide range of subjects available, but all subjects are not offered in every school. The Department of Education and Skills publishes syllabus and curriculum information. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provides a list of Junior Certificate subjects.

All students must follow courses in Irish (except where exemptions apply), English, Mathematics and Civic, Social and Political Education. There may be other compulsory subjects, depending on the type of school. Examinations in a number of other EU languages are offered to students who meet certain criteria.

Subjects are normally studied at either ordinary or higher level, although Irish and mathematics can also be studied at foundation level. However, under the Junior Cycle, English, Irish and Maths are studied at either ordinary or higher level and all new subject specifications are at common level. The classroom based assessments in second and third year are also set at a common level.

Examination grades

Percentage range Grade
85 or over A
70 but less than 85 B
55 but less than 70 C
40 but less than 55 D
25 but less than 40 E
10 but less than 25 F
Less than 10 No grade

New grading system

For information on the new grading system for the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) see our document on the Junior Cycle.

The JCPA grading system currently applies to English, Science and Business Studies. It will be rolled out to other subjects as they come under the JCPA programme.

Both the current and new grading systems will appear on your Junior Certificate. This format will apply until 2021 when the last Junior Certificate subjects are expected to be examined.

Assessment and examinations

The Junior Certificate is assessed by means of a written examination at the end of the three-year programme, along with practical examinations and project work in some subjects and oral and aural examinations in Irish and continental languages.

The practical and oral examinations take place during the third year of the programme. The written examination takes place in June.

You can find the timetables for the Junior Certificate written examinations (pdf) and for the practical course work (pdf) as well as the Junior Certificate examination papers on the website of the State Examinations Commission.

Rates

Students sitting for the Junior Certificate or the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) must pay an examination fee. In early February of the exam year, the school sends parents who are paying the examination fee a form. The parent makes the payment through a bank and the bank must stamp the form. The parent then returns the form to the school.

Students whose parent or guardian holds a current medical card do not have to pay the fee. In the case of parents who have a current medical card, details of the medical card are put on the form and the parent then sends the form back to the school.

Junior Cycle 2020-2021 examination fees will be published in early 2021 on the State Examinations Commission website.

The examination fee for the Junior Certificate or the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) in 2020 was €109.

The examination fee for VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme) and similar students was as follows:

  • Mix of Leaving Certificate/Junior Certificate subjects (3+) €116
  • Junior Certificate (3+ subjects) €109
  • 1 or 2 subjects - Leaving Certificate or Junior Certificate or mix of both €71

How to apply

The State Examinations Commission manages and administers the Junior Certificate or Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) Examinations.

Appealing your results: If you wish to appeal your Junior Certiciate examination results, you should apply through your school. The appeal fee is €32 per subject which is refunded if your result is upgraded.

To request a certified statement of examination results you can either apply in writing or download and complete the application form. Your application should include the following personal details:

  • Full name
  • Name at the time of the examination (if different)
  • Current address
  • Daytime phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Year of examination
  • Name and address of school attended
  • Examination number (if known)

Forward your completed application form together with the appropriate fee to the State Examinations Commission.

Where to apply

State Examinations Commission

Cornamaddy
Athlone
Westmeath
Ireland

Tel: (090) 644 2700
Fax: (090) 644 2744
Page edited: 4 September 2020