Leaving Certificate Applied

The Leaving Certificate Applied:

The Leaving Certificate Applied is a distinct, self-contained two-year Leaving Certificate programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life.

The programme sets out to recognise the talents of all students and to provide opportunities for developing personal responsibility, self-esteem and self-knowledge. The programme focuses on the talents of each student and helps students apply what they learn to the real world.

The two-year programme consists of four half-year blocks called sessions. Achievements are credited in each session.

There is more information in this overview of the Leaving Certificate Applied (pdf).

COVID-19 and the Leaving Certificate

Schools reopened at the start of the new school year – end of August 2020

The postponed Leaving Certificate 2020 examinations will start on Monday, 16 November 2020, subject to public health advice. This includes the Leaving Certificate Established, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). All exam will be written only, except for 5 subjects where coursework completed before schools closed will be marked and included. The written exams will be based on the normal question paper format, content and structure.

The 5 subjects where coursework will be graded and included are:

  • Home Economics (already marked by the SEC)
  • LCVP Portfolio
  • Design and Communication Graphics
  • Physical Education (PE) Physical Activity Project
  • Engineering

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

You can get calculated grades for outstanding assessments, including leaving certificate subjects, vocational specialisms and tasks due to be completed in the 2019-2020 Leaving Certificate Applied session. Read more about calculated grades and the Leaving Certificate.

If you sit any written exams in a subject and also got a Calculated Grade in that subject, you will be awarded the higher grade of the two.

Leaving Certificate 2020-2021

The Government has announced changes to some assessments for the 2020-2021 Leaving Certificate Programmes. Students will have greater choice in written exams and some mandatory sections on written exam papers will be adjusted. Coursework briefs will be delivered sooner to give more preparation time and the practical exam requirements in some subjects will be adjusted.

You can find the details of subject and module changes in the Department of Education’s Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021.

Exam fees

There will be no exam fee for 2020. All exam fees that have already been paid have been refunded.

Applied Leaving Certificate courses

Courses are offered in three main areas:

  • Vocational preparation, involving work experience, enterprise and communication
  • General education, offering life skills, the arts, social education, leisure and language
  • Vocational education.

Course structure

Each course consists of a number of modules. Each module takes place over half a year. There is also a wide range of practical courses, called vocational specialisms, from which the student can choose.

Assessment and examinations

Assessment is continuous throughout the course and there is a final examination.

Assessment takes place on the completion of modules and practical activities that allow the student to integrate the learning from different courses.

The final examination must be taken in the following areas:

  • English and communication
  • Two vocational specialisms
  • Mathematical applications
  • Language
  • Social education.

There are written and oral examinations in all languages. There are practical examinations in the vocational specialisms. The written examinations usually take place in June, at the same time as the examinations for the established Leaving Certificate.

The certificate awarded

Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a Leaving Certificate from the Department of Education and Skills. The certificate is awarded at three levels:

LevelMarks and Credits Required
Pass60-69% (120-139 credits)
Merit70-84% (140-169 credits)
Distinction85-100% (170-200 credits)

Candidates who get less than 60% (120 credits) or who do not complete the course, are awarded a record of experience.

Eligibility for further education and third-level courses

A student who has been awarded the Leaving Certificate Applied can go on to a very wide range of Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs). These are available in local post-primary schools and colleges.

There are many areas of study – Art/Design, Business, Science, Services/Leisure and Communications/Media studies.

PLC courses can lead on to an award recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). You can find out if your course is recognised by NFQ.

Students with the Leaving Certificate Applied cannot gain direct entry through the Central Applications Office (CAO) system to the universities or institutes of technology. Many PLC courses lead to either a level 5 or level 6 award. In some cases, you can progress with this award to a third level course in a higher education institution such as, institutes of technology and universities. You should discuss your options for progression with your course provider.

Students cannot go directly to nursing but may be eligible to apply as a mature student with certain qualifications or relevant experience.

Students with the Leaving Certificate Applied can also go on to apprenticeship programmes. Many students go directly to employment.


The fee for entry for school-based students sitting the Leaving Certificate Applied in 2020 was €116. Further information on State examination fees is here.

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

Candidates who hold a current medical card or who are dependent on a parent or guardian who holds a current medical card are exempt from paying examination fees. Applicants who are claiming exemption from fees on this basis must provide medical card details to the Commission. Applications from external candidates received after the deadline are subject to late fees even if the initial fee has been waived.

How to apply

If you are a post-primary school student, your details will be sent to the State Examinations Commission by your school. If you are an external (non-school) candidate for the Leaving Certificate Applied you can apply online or on the application form from the SEC.

You can find the following documents on the State Examinations Commission website:

Where to apply

State Examinations Commission


Tel: (090) 644 2700
Fax: (090) 644 2744

Curriculum Development Unit

Sundrive Road
Dublin 12

Tel: (01) 453 5487
Fax: (01) 453 7659

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