Leaving Cert Grading System [2023]

The Leaving Certificate is the final exam for secondary school students in Ireland. The Department of Education and Skills introduced a new Leaving Certificate grading scale and revised the common points scale in 2017. 

All universities and institutes of technology applied the revised arrangements from 2017. In this article, we will explain:

  • The Revised Leaving Cert Grading System
  • Common Points Scale
  • Bonus Points For Mathematics
  • Revised Scoring For LCVP Link Modules
  • Benefits Of The New Grading System
  • How Hard Is The New Leaving Cert
  • Can You Fail The Leaving Cert

The Leaving Cert Timetable 2022 has been published! And we’ve prepared a 2-hour maths crash course which is the final boost your child needs to be prepped, ready, and confident as they walk into their exams.

The Revised Leaving Cert Grading System

The new grading system replaced the previous 14-point grading scale with an 8-point scale. On this new scale, the highest grade is Grade H1 or O1, and the lowest is Grade H8 or O8 at both the Higher and Ordinary levels

Marks between 100% and 30% are divided into seven equal bands (Grade 1-7). Each band is counted as 10%. Any marks less than 30% are counted as Grade 8.

H1-H8 distinguishes the grades at the Higher Level, and the Ordinary Level is distinguished by O1-O8. 

Points are calculated based on the results of the six best subjects in one year’s LC sitting. 

The Revised Common Points Scale

*NOTE: Foundation Level is offered in two subjects: Irish and Mathematics. There are currently no institutions in Ireland who will accept points for Foundation Level Irish, and only a select few who will accept points from Foundation Level Maths, so make sure you check with the institution you are applying to!

So for example, a student at the Higher Level who scores between 90%-100% will score an H1 and get 100 points. 

A student at the Ordinary Level who scores between 90%-100% will receive an O1 and get 56 points.

Under this new grading system, Higher Level students get 37 points for grades between 30%-39%; no longer an automatic fail like the E grade in the previous scale. 

 Bonus Points for Higher Level Maths

For Grades H1 – H6 in Higher Level Mathematics, 25 bonus points are added. 

For example, if an applicant receives an H5 grade, an additional 25 points will be added to the 56 points for his H5 grade. His Higher Level Mathematics now carries a points score of 81.

Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) students follow the same assessment method and grading scale of Leaving Cert Established (LCE) for their subject examinations. Grades for LCVP Link Modules are aligned with the current Leaving Cert grading system and equivalent points.

Percentage (%)PointsLCVP Grade
Grading Scale For Leaving Cert Vocational Programme Link Modules

The Department of Education has published updated assessment arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert Exams 2022.

Benefits Of The New Leaving cert Grading System

  1. The previous grading system had a lower grade band that pressured students to cram and rote learn. The new broader grade bands ease that pressure.
  2. It allows for greater flexibility, variety, and innovation in Leaving Certificate assessments.
  3. It maintains the previous alignment between the points at the Higher Level and the points at the Ordinary Level. This ensures that a broad range of second-level learning achievements will be encouraged. 
  4. It minimizes random selection in the admissions process by minimizing the number of candidates presenting with identical points scores.
  5. The revised points scale awards points for even the H7 grade. The level of achievement represented by an H7 is equivalent to the level of achievement represented by an O3. This encourages the take-up of a higher-level curriculum in the senior cycle and reduces the risk of taking higher-level examinations.  

How Hard Is The New Leaving Cert?

Leaving Cert is the final exam for senior students, and universities use its result for admission. So, yes, naturally, the Leaving Cert is pretty much going to be tricky. But how hard will it be for you?

Well, that depends solely on your preparation. It’s a cliche, but preparation is everything. I have seen many students start studying bit by bit in their 5th year, and it pays off. I personally started doing a few hours of study on my Sundays in my 5th year – and it paid off in the end.

There are so many resources available now to help you study. Starting with the past papers is the best way forward. You can find all the previous years’ questions here and practice them regularly. 

If you need extra help with Leaving Cert Maths, you can join our Online Maths Grinds. We provide weekly notes and questions to enhance your maths skills. Our online classes consist of small groups of 6 kids or less to ensure that every student gets the best guidance possible. We also offer WhatsApp support for any extra queries outside of our grinds! 

You can check our online maths video resources or book a free trial grind to start your journey!

Can You Fail The Leaving Cert?

There is no overall pass or fail of the Leaving Certificate examination. 

Students need to check the minimum entry requirements and subject requirements for all their courses. They may have the necessary number of passes and satisfy any subject requirement for university. Students will only have to repeat a subject if their desired course has a specific grade requirement which they did not meet.


The new 8-point scale of the Leaving Cert grading system ensures that students will have less pressure than before, and the 10% grade bands will give greater flexibility in their assessments.

Need more information? Read our complete overview of the Leaving Cert here for a more in-depth analysis of the Leaving Cert.

Good luck!

Recommended Reading: How To Study For Leaving Cert


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