Helping you get through tough times

Leaving Cert results day

Today is the day for thousands of students around the country – the day you find out if the hard graft and study has paid off and resulted in the number of points you were hoping and working for.

exam resultsIf you’re anything like me, you’ll be frantically adding up your points total (bring a calculator, folks), and asking your friends what they got.

There’ll be big plans for the night out tonight, and who’s going where and what time you’ll all meet at.

There might be dinners out with family beforehand, and phoning granny to tell her how you did. She’ll say well done regardless, because she’s just delighted you survived the whole process.

One of two categories

There are generally two categories of people that will emerge. The first group will be those who got exactly what they wanted, and those who got more than they expected and are pleasantly surprised.

Some of these people may be featured in the paper tomorrow, pictured holding their results in a group.

The second group will be those for whom the numbers don’t quite add up to the required or hoped-for total. Then. they’re will be those who, for whatever reason, whether they have a different plan or haven’t figured out what those points might mean for them yet, aren’t really bothered by their points total.

You got through it!

Either way, these two groups are linked by one undeniable fact. You survived the Leaving Certificate. However you’re feeling as you open that envelope and look at what’s inside, it’s OK.

It’s OK if it worked out, and it’s equally OK if it didn’t.

New points system

This year there is a new system of calculating points. It can help to take your results home, print off the new points system, and make sure you calculate it correctly. Get someone to double check it.

Have some tea and something chocolatey on hand while you do this. Take a moment. Be proud of how far you’ve come regardless of what that piece of paper says.

There are things that you can do if you feel your results don’t reflect what you feel they should. Speak to your school about viewing a paper or getting your mark re-checked (ideally you should do this as soon as possible as there are deadlines for this).

Third level offers

If you applied to the CAO the offers will start coming in on Monday. If you don’t get your first choice on the first go, don’t panic, there is more than one round of offers.

If you didn’t apply through the CAO because you weren’t sure what you wanted to do, or if you don’t end up getting offered a place on the course you wanted, don’t panic. There are many other paths to get where you might like to go.

There are PLC courses which can help if you aren’t sure what you’d like to do, or if you need to build a portfolio of some kind. There are some colleges within Ireland and the Open University which allow you to take courses regardless of points levels (although be aware they do usually cost more than regular courses).

You can take a year out and figure out what you’d like to do by travelling or getting a job. You can also repeat the Leaving Certificate if you really want to. The point is, there are options. Check out


This is a big moment in your life, so it’s OK to feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. It’s OK to feel elated or disappointed, and it’s OK if you’re not actually really sure how you feel at all.

The important thing is to acknowledge that you got through it, and just like you got through the two years of hard work and the few weeks of the pressure of exam after exam, you can get through whatever comes next.

Next steps after the Leaving Cert

There are many people who are there to support you as you take your next steps. Lean on them, talk to them. You are not alone, in celebrating or otherwise. These exams measured only one element of your ability. Remember, they don’t reflect who you are as a person.

Your mates, your hobbies, how you treat other people, they reflect who you are as a person. This is just a moment. A big moment, yes, but a moment nonetheless. You have the whole rest of your life to figure out who you are, and this is just the beginning.

About the author

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre and the School of Psychology in Trinity College Dublin. Sarah is researching the area of stress and coping in Leaving Cert students. Find out more about Sarah’s research here.