State examinations

The State Examinations Commission is responsible for the development, assessment, accreditation and certification of the second-level examinations of the Irish state: the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate. The State Examinations Commission is a non-departmental public body under the aegis of the Department of Education and Science. Students in secondary schools in Ireland with special needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations. (That is, Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate examinations). Candidates with disabilities (for example, visual impairments, motor and mobility impairments, etc.) can apply through their school for reasonable accommodation during examinations.

What sort of ‘reasonable accommodation’ is available?

Examples of reasonable accommodation include the following:

  • the provision of enlarged and/or Braille versions of questions for visually impaired students
  • you may use voice-activated computers, tape recorders or scribes (other people to do the writing)
  • You may do your examination in a hospital or in any other stand-alone centre
  • You may also get extra time to complete the examination. In the Leaving Cert, you may get 20 minutes extra in some subjects – Irish, English, History and Geography.
  • If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may be exempted from the aural part of the examination

Students with special needs may apply to have part of a State examination waived and to be marked out of 100% on the balance of the paper. The national marking schemes for the subjects concerned are organised in such a way to ensure that students with special needs have the same opportunity to score full marks regardless of the exempted parts of the paper.

Accommodation that can be approved by your school

Your school has the authority to make special provisions for students with special needs during State exams on the basis of what is best for you.

Some of the special provisions your school can make include:

  • Taking medicine, food or drinks into the examination centre where this is required for medical reasons.
  • Use of a special desk or chair that is used in your classroom
  • Use of low-vision aids that you normally use in the classroom
  • Ensuring deaf and hard-of-hearing students are seated close to the examination superintendent
  • Granting breaks or rest periods in each examination session warranted by your physical or medical condition. (Under this special provision, the time taken for rest or as a break can be compensated for at the end of each examination period to a maximum of 20 minutes).
  • Taking your examinations in hospital if you have had an accident immediately prior to or during the examinations.

If you are not satisfied with the arrangements made, you may appeal to an independent appeals forum. The members of the forum are from outside the Commission and all appeals are considered in light of theFramework of Principles set out by the Expert Advisory Group on State Examinations.


The State Examinations Commission of Ireland have responsibility for ensuring the proper conduct of State examinations in Ireland. The Commission have a stated policy regarding the issue of reasonable accommodation of students with special needs during examination time. However, your school also has the power to make additional provisions for you if these arrangements are warranted.

Where to apply

State Examinations Commission
Cornamaddy, Athlone, Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)90 644 2700
Fax: +353 (0)90 644 2744