Ask anyone in their late twenties or early thirties what was the most stressful time of their lives so far and, for the majority, they will still recall the Leaving Cert state examination. Over the past 50 years, little has changed to the system which puts students under an immense amount of pressure. A recent review of the senior cycle found that the current Leaving Certificate is "too narrowly focused on academic learning and is not suitable for students of varying abilities". The current flawed system encourages one path and little has changed to take into account the changing landscape and the varied employment opportunities open to students.
A recent survey published by Studyclix found that more than half of Leaving Cert students have developed mental or physical health issues as a result of exam pressure. The survey was conducted on more than 3,500 second-level students. The findings show that 71 per cent reported suffering from anxiety as a result of the exam. Other issues that have impacted negatively on young people's health as a result of the state exams are; weight gain (47 per cent), insomnia (35 per cent), depression (28 per cent) and weight loss (15 per cent).
The biggest cause for concern was the sheer number of exams students faced. When asked what would reduce the pressure students faced, 37 per cent of students responded more continuous assessment, 31 per cent responded smaller subject choice and 20 per cent responded exams spread further apart. When asked if the Leaving Cert fairly assessed their intelligence, an overwhelming 80 per cent of students responded "No". Furthermore, up to 60 per cent of students believed that the Leaving Certificate points system will not help them to follow their desired study or career path.
Recently, Minister Richard Bruton said pressure should be taken off Leaving Cert students, after Samaritans reported that their busiest day last year was August 16th 2018, the day after Leaving Cert results were released.