The Irish Leaving Certificate – A Route to Third Level Education in the EU

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University College Dublin

Studying at Third Level in Ireland & the EU Explained

We currently have students from eleven countries currently working towards sitting the Irish Leaving Certificate State Examinations in 2018 and 2019.  They are doing this by studying Leaving Certificate distance learning courses at the College.  Some are hoping to move to Ireland, in order to study a third level degree at university and others are planning to move to another EU destination like Germany, Denmark or the Netherlands, with a view to entering third level education there. Regardless of where they choose to go to university, all of them are using their Irish leaving certificate qualifications to gain entry to the course of their choice. The most popular choices for our past students are a degree in medicine, law, business, psychology or a modern language.

If you are planning to move to Ireland to study at third level, you will need to explore the full range of options available to you.  The Citizens Information website has published a comprehensive guide on all you need to know in advance.

Oxford University

If you plan to use your Irish Leaving Certificate qualification to apply for a third level course in the EU Eunicas is a good starting point to get an overview of the entry requirements and options available.


5 Steps to Sitting the Irish Leaving Certificate

STEP 1. OPEN ALL YEAR – Enrol on a home study Leaving Certificate programme.  At Kilroy’s College, we have fourteen different subjects at higher and ordinary level available to study.  Our course tutors are all experienced secondary school teachers.  You can study the Irish leaving certificate from anywhere in the world with our unique distance learning courses.

How Does the Leaving Certificate Distance Learning Course Work?

Each course contains around 200 hours of learning effort and can be completed in as little as six to nine months. Our students can elect to enrol and study over a one or two-year cycle if preferred.  The course will bring you through the subject syllabus and ask you to submit a set number of assignments.  These will be corrected by your tutor and returned to you with a grade and comments.  At the end of each course you will sit a mock examination at home, under timed exam conditions.  This is also to be submitted for feedback and correction.

Find out how our past Leaving Certificate Student, Carmela, who studied for six subjects from the comfort of home in Uruguay got on.

Student Support

Your tutor is contactable 24/7 privately by email with any queries on the course contents.  Our College Student Services team is also on hand during office hours to assist you. Our student community also exchanges tips and information in a closed Facebook group which you will be invited to join once you have enrolled in the College.

STEP 2. NOVEMBER/DECEMBERFind a secondary school in Ireland where you can sit the Leaving Certificate State Examinations as an external candidate. Download a school request form and present it to the Principal of the school that you wish to sit the exams in.  Note: you should retain this form and bring it to the first day of the examinations. 

STEP 3. JANUARY/FEBRUARYRegister as an external candidate online with the State Examinations Commission – the online registration window usually opens in the middle of January until the end of February.  Check their website and register early.  You will need to give them the location of the school where you will be sitting the examinations so it is imperative that you have this sorted beforehand (see Step 2). Note: a fee (capped at 3+ subjects) is payable at this time to the SEC for this service.

Examination Hall

STEP 4. JUNE – Travel to Ireland to sit the Leaving Certificate State Examination.  The written and aural (listening) exams are held in June of each year.  Orals for modern languages are typically held before Easter of that year (in March or April) – so you may have to travel over twice if you are studying a language.  If you let the State Examinations Commission know that you are an overseas student when you register they may be able to facilitate you taking the oral exam in June to save travelling twice, but this is solely at their discretion and may not be possible.

STEP 5. AUGUST – You will get your results in the middle of August through the State Examinations Commission.

More Questions?

If you would like to know more about any of the options mentioned in this article please email and we would be very happy to assist you.

6 Tips For Leaving Certificate Students To Help You Study Better

Now is the best time to get into a proper study routine, particularly if you are working towards the 2018 Leaving Certificate examinations.  Here are a few tips from our Student Services team to help Leaving Certificate students to get into a good study routine and ensure that they all get the most benefit from their precious study time.

Study Success

1. Take proper breaks

Sometimes less really is more. If you’ve ever felt like you are zoning out in the middle of a study session, it could be because you are simply studying for too long at a time! Did you know that your brain can typically concentrate for only 25 minutes at a time. So, it is best to study for 30 minute blocks and break these up by a “reward” of a 5 or 10 minute break between each.

2. Implement active learning

Most learning for exams can be divided into either 2 key areas: facts or concepts. Learning the names of the muscles in the human body are facts but learning how the muscles work together is a concept. Understanding concepts is much more important than facts. If you haven’t mastered the overall concept then it follows that you will find it really difficult to learn the facts.

Try to put concepts into your own words. This will add meaning to it and remembering it will be easier. Or work with a study buddy and try and teach them the concept you’ve just learned (and vice versa).

3. Change your study habitat

Change Your Study Habitat

Lots of students study in their bedroom or in the kitchen or living room at home. The problem with this is that the brain associates these rooms with activities other than studying.

Set up a proper study area. If this has to be your bedroom then move your desk away from the bed. Remember to put your phone on silent (or better still leave it out of the room) to minimise unwanted distractions!

4. SQ3R

A good method of learning from textbooks is SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.

In each chapter of your textbook survey the various sections to come up with a series of questions, for example “What are red blood cells for?” Then read through the text looking for answers to your questions. (Once you have created questions, your brain will find it way easier to place the answers). Next recite the information by either verbalising it or re-writing it and finally review everything just before your exam.

5. Sleep Hygiene

An Hour Before Midnight Is Worth Two After!

One of the best and easiest ways to improve the efficiency of your study period is to get more quality sleep. Scientists have proven that our brain forms memory during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Aim for a minimum of 8 hours. It’s also really important to try and get into a healthy sleep pattern. As my Granny used to say: “An hour before midnight is worth two after!”

6. Question Everything

One of the best ways you can see if you are making progress is by testing yourself with past exam questions. You can download these for free from the State Examinations Commission and they will also give you the marking schemes for past papers.

Student Support

Although you are in a class of one, you are never alone.  Our Leaving Certificate students can reach out to their personal subject tutors 24/7 privately by email or they can phone our in-house Student Services team at the College on (01) 639 4660 during office hours.  We are here to help!



Canadian Gaeilgeoirí

We have had many students studying our home study Irish leaving certificate course based all over the world.  Some are working towards sitting Irish at the Leaving Certificate State Examinations in Ireland and others are doing it just for fun, or to make a connection with their Irish ancestry.

Did you know?

Flying the Flag for Irish

In Ontario, Canada there is an official Gaeltacht settlement in Tamworth, 30 miles north of Napanee.  Many Irish immigrants who fled the Great Famine in the mid 19th century settled here, so there is a big historical connection with Ireland already in the town. The Tamworth Gaeltacht was founded by Sheila Scott and her husband Séamus Mac Concharraige in 1994 and has continued to grow and thrive since. “People like to connect with their roots. There’s a sense of pride in that identity,” says Sheila Scott.

Living Language

In this 62 acre Ontario settlement, the Irish language is used as a way of remembering and celebrating the roots, the history, culture and a way of keeping alive the tie to Ireland itself.  The language is kept alive by hosting event such as arts festivals, summer camps, classes, Irish dance, music, Gaelic games and most importantly by speaking Irish.

However, it is not just in Ontario that Canadians are flying the flag for Ireland.  In Vancouver Professor Scott Oser, Physics Professor at the University of British Columbia, has organised An Ciorcal Comhrá.  A group of people meet every week for an hour and a half for coffee and conversation in Irish.  We chatted with Professor Oser about his motivation for setting up this group and for tips on how to encourage our students to reach out and do the same thing back home or wherever they are based!

Interview with Professor Scott Oser

When did you found An Ciorcal Comhrá?

Ciorcal Comhrá was set up in 2009 and has operated continuously ever since.

What inspired you to set up this Irish language exchange?

I had not had any opportunities to use my Irish for nearly a decade at the point when I learned that my former Irish teacher had died tragically young from brain cancer.  This shocking news have the effect of lighting a fire under me and motivating me to look for other Irish speakers in the Vancouver area.  While there was a beginner’s Irish class offered across town, there was nothing available for people who were already fluent and just wanted a chance to use Irish outside a classroom setting.  But through that class I was able to find other more advanced Irish speakers and start a group.  Members have joined steadily since.

Can you tell us a little bit about the group of people involved in the Irish language group and their backgrounds? Are they native Canadians, ex pats or a mix of both?

The majority of our regulars are Irish ex-pats, some of whom have been in Canada for decades as well as some people who’ve come more recently. We do however have two or three Canadians, and the occasional American.

How did you go about learning Irish initially? What was your motivation?

I began learning Irish in 1993 while living in the US. Originally I had only textbooks and audio tapes available, and the Internet as we know it today scarcely existed.  Upon moving to Chicago, I found a group that offered weekly evening classes which I attended for about five years, and was eventually able to reach a high level of fluency.

The question of why I would learn Irish is one I am often asked and one which I scarcely have a convincing answer for.  Ultimately I loved the language, and wanted to learn the idiom that some of my ancestors previously spoke.  The fact that Irish was both unusual but very much a living language was part of the appeal.

What tips can you give our Irish Leaving Certificate students who might like to set up a similar language exchange?

Advertise extensively online, and set up a culture in which only Irish is spoken. We welcome beginners but tell them that we’re there to speak Irish, and won’t be offering translations to English or speaking English.  We’re not a class, and while we love talking about the language as much as any Irish speaker we’re there to speak it and not talk about speaking it.

Do you have any advice for an Irish student who may be struggling with getting to grips with the language?

Get a good Irish grammar book

While this will not be a popular opinion, I think getting a strong grip on the grammar at the start is essential. Get yourself a good grammar book and really learn how phrases and sentences get put together.  I don’t think this can be learned just by osmosis.  Once you have that basis, read extensively to improve vocabulary.

You have been a guest on An Saol Ó Dheas on Raidio na Gaeltachta and spoken about your love of the Irish language before. What did you talk about?

My interview on An Saol Ó Dheas was motivated by a trip I took to Dublin in November 2016, where I presented a public lecture in Irish on physics, which is my day job.  I was invited to speak at the Meanmanra 2016 conference on dark matter.  It was perhaps the first time a foreign scientist has lectured in Irish in Ireland, and almost certainly the first time that cutting-edge physics and cosmology was presented through Irish as well.


The interview on Raidió na Gaeltachta 

Dark Matter Lecture in Irish



Have you ever visited Ireland? If yes, what do you like best about coming to our country?

I’ve been to Ireland three times, but I’ve spent less than a month in the country in total.  For me the best part is the comparative ease of finding people to speak Irish with.  And I always buy lots of books – you can buy Irish books online from Canada, but shipping adds ~30% to the cost.  The last time I came I brought a small extra suitcase and filled it entirely with books from Siopa an Chonartha in Dublin!

Leaving Certificate Irish Course

Enrol now in our home study Leaving Certificate Irish course and work towards sitting the State Examinations in June 2018 or June 2019 – or study the course just for fun!

Competition Time!

Translate Professor Oser’s interview into Irish! Email your submission to by 31st October 2017 and be in with a chance to win a €250 Kilroy’s College tuition voucher. The lucky winner will be notified by email the following week!


Leaving Certificate Courses By Distance Learning

Fully Flexible Leaving Certificate

We have been delivering the Leaving Certificate by distance learning for over thirty years at Kilroy’s College.  During this period we have had hundreds of students, of all ages and abilities, take from one to seven subjects with the College over the years. One of our recent Leaving Certificate students, Carmela, who took six subjects with us and attained one A1, two A2s, two B1s and one B2 has shared her success story with us.  Read on to find out she accomplished this.

Home Schooling

Students study with us for many different reasons: some have decided that a school environment is not for them after the Junior Cycle and work with us to continue in the education system from home with a view to completing the Leaving Certificate and, in many cases, progress onto a third level course.

Repeat Leaving Certificate

Other students repeat the Leaving Certificate with a view to getting the points that they need to enter third level in Ireland or abroad.  As our Leaving Certificate course is delivered by distance learning and is self-paced students can also earn as they learn!

Academic Entry Requirements

For students who decide on a change of career or course and need higher level Irish for Primary Education or a science subject or a modern language for a particular College course our flexible home study Leaving Certificate course can enable them to achieve their goal.

International Students

We also have a cohort of international students based all over the world, who study with Kilroy’s College from home.  In many cases they plan to  enter third level education in Ireland or in their home country once they have sat the Leaving Certificate.

We interviewed one such student, Carmela Zazpe Revello, who studied six subjects with us from Uruguay to find out how she got on!

Leaving Certificate student Carmela Zazape Revello
  1. You were based in Uruguay when you enrolled in our distance learning Leaving Certificate courses.  What inspired you to study for the Irish Leaving Certificate examination?

I had already sat the Junior Certificate when I lived in Dublin and I had a delightful experience. I knew I wanted to finish my studies in English, since it would help me to expand my vocabulary even more and better my English skills. I especially like the fact that you get to choose the subjects you want to do, and you’re more in control with what you would like to study, which is a privilege we don’t have here in Uruguay.

2. How did you initially hear about Kilroy’s College and our Leaving Certificate home study programme?

I was looking online for options to study from a distance, and I found Kilroy’s College programme.

3. You enrolled in September and sat the examinations the following June. Were you comfortable with the nine month time line that you had to complete your studies?

Yes, I was comfortable with it. Maybe it was because I had sat the Junior Certificate not too long before that and I knew how everything works. I think doing it in 9 months instead of 2 years was perfect in my case since doing it long distance for 2 whole years maybe would’ve caused me to lose motivation or focus towards the end. Every case is different, but 9 months were sufficient for me.

4. Which subjects did you enrol in?

I enrolled in six subjects: English, Maths, Spanish, Accounting, Business and Economics.

5. How did you get on in the examinations?  Were you happy with your results?

I got on really well – an A1 in Spanish, an A2 in Maths and Economics, a B1 in Accounting and Business and a B2 in English. I studied and practised a lot beforehand so I was as well prepared as I could be. I was extremely happy with the results since they reflected the amount of effort and hard work I put in.

6. Did you find it easy to complete the home study programme from abroad? 

I found it pretty easy. The only thing I had trouble with, was finding the motivation to do it myself. Since nobody is watching over you or telling you to do it constantly, and you don’t really have definite deadlines, I sometimes found it hard to actually sit down and do the work when I first started the programme. Once I got used to how everything worked, and received the grades back for the assignments I sent, it was easier to make a routine for studying and completing everything on time.

7. Were you happy with the guidance that you got from your personal subject tutors and also from the Kilroy’s Student Services team?

Yes, everyone at Kilroy’s College were really supportive and always willing to help me. They definitely made the whole experience easier and more enjoyable. Despite the distance, I got quick answers. We had issues at first due to the assignments having to be delivered by post and having to go back and forth, it took a pretty long time for things to get all the way to Uruguay and back to Ireland. We realized this was slowing the process down. We decided I would scan the assignments and send them by e-mail since it was way quicker and more efficient.

8. Had you any experience of taking any other distance learning courses at all before you enrolled with Kilroy’s College?

No, I hadn’t had any experience or knew anyone that had done anything remotely similar. I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised!

Leaving Certificate External Candidacy

9. How did you go about finding a secondary school in Ireland to sit the examinations in?

I had no problem finding one since I lived in Ireland for 2 years and attended school there. I sat the Junior Certificate while I lived in Dublin. I got in touch with my old school and they were extremely helpful and supportive of me sitting the exams there.

10.  Was it an easy process to register as an external candidate online at with the State Examinations Commission?

I honestly don’t remember much about this process so I assume it wasn’t difficult at all!

11. When you went into the school to sit the examination were there any other external candidates in the exam hall?  How did you feel?

Yes, they were other external candidates who were sitting the exams, a lot of them actually. We were always in a separated group from the rest of the students that actually studied at that school. I felt comfortable because I saw some familiar faces and old friends. I chatted with the Principal and some of my old teachers as well.

12. Which subject did you personally find the most challenging and did you find our course helpful and useful in getting to grips with that subject?

The most challenging subject for me was Economics, more specifically microeconomics. I found the programme helpful because it had everything well summarized and exactly what you needed in order to understand some of the difficult concepts in the course. It didn’t have unnecessary information that would have confused me or made it more difficult.

13. Which subject did you find the most enjoyable? 

I found Accounting the most enjoyable, which wasn’t really a surprise since I’ve always known I liked it better than any other subject.

Leaving Certificate home study from Uruguay!

14. What did you do next? 

I started university here in Uruguay, I’m studying to become an accountant. I’m currently halfway through my third year.

15. Were you offered a place at university in Ireland or anywhere else?

I wasn’t really looking to go to university in Ireland, that was never my plan. I knew I wanted to study here, in Uruguay, and that’s what I’m doing.

16. Would you recommend the home study leaving certificate programme to students who are perhaps planning to apply to study in Ireland at a third level institution/university?

Yes, I would definitely recommend it. The best thing to do is probably find out beforehand what are the requirements, in terms of subjects and grades, for the university you want to go to, and start planning from there.

17. What are you most looking forward to next in your career path?

I’m really looking forward to continue studying accounting and getting my degree. Once I finish, I will most definitely be doing a Masters Degree in some area related to Accounting or International Commerce, which I’m also really interested in, but I plan on doing that abroad. Maybe Ireland, who knows?

Enrol Today and Save 25% on your Leaving Certificate Home Study Course Fees

There is no better time than now to enrol and start working towards the 2018 or 2019 Leaving Certificate examination!  Each course is tutor-supported and self-paced right up until the date of the examination and can be completed in as little as 6-9 months!

Enrol before midnight Tuesday August 29th and save 25% off your course fees.  Your course can be put on hold for you until you are ready to commence your studies – so you can still avail of the discount even if you plan to start later in the year.  Please just contact our Student Services team once you have enrolled to organise this.

We support our students every step of the way in their learning journey.  At Kilroy’s College you are in a class of one, but are never alone!

Distance & Online Courses – Discounted By Up To 50%!

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QQI Certificates & Much More!

Our qualifications range from QQI certificates, IT & computer skills certificates, diplomas and short courses.  Whatever you want to study, we’re sure to have the right course for you.

Life-Enhancing Learning

Our students can enrol at any time of the year and the College is open all year round.  Learners work at their own pace (within their given course limit) and are guided every step of the way through their studies by their very own personal tutor.  Our Student Services team is also on hand Monday-Friday to help with any query – no matter how big or how small.

Whether you intend to improve or transform your career, pursue a new interest or even change the world – you can enjoy life-enhancing learning all year round.

Online Dog Grooming Courses

Dog lover, Louise, always wanted to do a Dog Grooming course but, as a busy owner of eight dogs, she had her hands full!  She needed a flexible and affordable way to study for her dog grooming diploma and realise her dream.  Read Louise’s story.

Louise in action at her business “Groom by Louise”

Career Preparation Courses

Mature Nursing & Midwifery Course

And learn how Aisling Doyle set herself the challenge of studying for the Mature Nursing & Midwifery test with Kilroy’s and was offered her first choice in the CAO to study as a mature student in Trinity College Dublin in Nursing in September 2016.

Returning to Academia

Returning To Academia?

Leaving Certificate Courses

Sometimes, people study with Kilroy’s College to fill a knowledge gap, perhaps having missed the traditional academic path earlier in life.

Our students are living & breathing proof that our Leaving Certificate studies can fit around your busy life.

Find out how Helen Rogers returned to academia as a mature student after taking our Leaving Certificate Higher Level Irish course and is now studying at Hibernia College for a Masters in Primary Education.

On the subject of returning to academia: have you viewed our leaving certificate courses?

What would you love to learn?

There is simply no better time to start than right now – with course fees discounted by up to 50%.

Find out more!

Enquiry Form


Online Leaving Certificate Intensive Revision Course

Kilroy’s College is proud to launch its new short online intensive revision Leaving Certificate course.  The course enables you to gain continuous and vital Leaving Certificate oral and written exam question practice from home – whilst under the supervision of personal tutor.  All tutors are experienced Leaving Certificate secondary school teachers. You are given access to superb notes and practice exam questions with model answers.  Everything you need to succeed is included in this new, unique, intensive, online revision course.

Keep on studying with our support right up to your exam date!

Students can choose to enrol in up to fourteen major Leaving Certificate subjects, both at Higher and Ordinary Levels.

Practice Makes Perfect

Leaving Certificate 2017 timetable has now been published and  Leaving Certificate students are busy preparing themselves for their modern language subject oral examinations, which typically take place around Easter time, and for the crucial written examinations which commence on June 7th 2017.

Once you have covered the topics in your revision schedule the best way to prepare yourself for the rapidly approaching Leaving Certificate examination is to practice oral and written answers to as many questions as possible.  Kilroy’s College can help you do this.

Continue reading “Online Leaving Certificate Intensive Revision Course”

6 Tips For Leaving Certificate Study Plans

Don’t let your study plans go to the dogs this Christmas!

Staying motivated when studying for the Leaving Certificate can be really hard during any holiday periods.  Whether it is Christmas, New Year or the summer holidays, best intentions can sometimes get waylaid by the festivities as we try to make the most of our down time and holidays.

6 Tips for Success

So we have put together 6 tips to help our Leaving Certificate students to focus and to succeed in their study plans over the holidays. Continue reading “6 Tips For Leaving Certificate Study Plans”

The Leaving Certificate by Home Study

The College currently offers fourteen different home study Leaving Certificate subjects at both higher and ordinary level: Accounting, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Economics, English, French, Geography, German, History, Irish, Mathematics, Physics, Spanish.  More details on all of these subjects can be found here 

Virtual Classroom

Our #leaving certificate courses have been authored and designed to replace the classroom and the majority Continue reading “The Leaving Certificate by Home Study”

How to get ahead in Irish

ceili-bodhranIs the thought of sitting Irish in your Leaving Certificate stressing you out?  Whatever your motivation for taking Irish – be it as an entry requirement for third level, or for a Masters in Primary Education, we have the solution to ease your pain.

Fourteen Subjects

Our unique home study Leaving Certificate programme has been proven to work for the thousands of students Continue reading “How to get ahead in Irish”

Achieve maximum points!


This academic year (2016-2017) sees the introduction of the New Common Points Scale for Entry to Higher Education. The scale has been amended to take some of the pressure off the points race.

Currently a mark of 5% would generally separate grades.  For example, a C3 is 55-60% and a B2 is 75-80% Continue reading “Achieve maximum points!”