Leaving Certificate Applied

What is the Leaving Certificate Applied?

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) is a 2-year Leaving Certificate programme which prepares students for adult and working life.

The programme helps students apply what they learn to the real world.

The 2-year programme consists of 4 half-year blocks called sessions. Achievements are credited in each session.

The established Leaving Certificate is a different programme covering a wide range of subjects taken over 2 years. You can read about the Leaving Certificate.

Leaving Certificate Applied 2024

You can get information about the assessment arrangements for the Leaving Certificate Applied 2024 exams (pdf).

The Leaving Certificate Applied 2024 written exams will take place from 5 June 2024 to 13 June 2024. The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has published the exam timetable (pdf) and more information for Leaving Certificate 2024.

Leaving Certificate Applied courses

Courses are offered in 3 main areas:

  • Vocational preparation, involving work experience, enterprise and communication
  • General education, offering life skills, the arts, social education, leisure and language
  • Vocational education

Course structure

Each course consists of a number of modules. Each module takes place over half a year. There is also a wide range of practical courses, called vocational specialisms, from which the student can choose.

Assessment and examinations

Students are assessed continuously throughout the course and there is a final examination.

Students are assessed on the completion of modules and practical activities that allow you to integrate learning from different courses.

The final examination must be taken in:

  • English and communication
  • Two vocational specialisms
  • Mathematical applications
  • Language
  • Social education

There are written and oral examinations in all languages. There are practical examinations in the vocational specialisms. The written examinations usually take place in June, at the same time as the examinations for the established Leaving Certificate.

Since September 2022, students taking the LCA programme can choose to take the established Leaving Certificate Mathematics and an established Leaving Certificate Modern Language.

You can find out more about how the Leaving Cert Applied is assessed.

The certificate awarded

Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a Leaving Certificate from the Department of Education. The certificate is awarded at three levels:

Level Marks and Credits Required
Pass 60-69% (120-139 credits)
Merit 70-84% (140-169 credits)
Distinction 85-100% (170-200 credits)

Candidates who get less than 60% (120 credits) or who do not complete the course, are awarded a record of experience.

Eligibility for further education and third-level courses

If you are awarded the Leaving Certificate Applied, you can go on to a wide range of Post-Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs). PLCs take place in your Education and Training Board (ETB) schools, colleges and education centres.

Courses offered include Art and Design, Business, Science, Services and Leisure, and Communications and Media studies.

PLC courses can lead to an award recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). You can find out if your course is recognised by NFQ.

Students with the Leaving Certificate Applied cannot gain direct entry through the Central Applications Office (CAO) system to the universities or institutes of technology. Many PLC courses lead to either a level 5 or level 6 award. In some cases, you can progress with this award to a third level course in a higher education institution such as an institute of technology or a university. You should discuss your options for progression with your course provider.

Students cannot go directly to nursing but may be eligible to apply as a mature student with certain qualifications or relevant experience.

Students with the Leaving Certificate Applied can also go on to apprenticeship programmes. Many students go directly to employment.

Leaving Certificate exam fee

How to apply

If you are a post-primary school student, your details will be sent to the State Examinations Commission by your school. If you are an external (non-school) candidate for the Leaving Certificate Applied, you can apply online or on the application form from the SEC.

You can find the following documents on the State Examinations Commission website:

Where to apply

State Examinations Commission


Tel: (090) 644 2700
Fax: (090) 644 2744

Curriculum Development Unit

Sundrive Road
Dublin 12

Tel: (01) 453 5487
Fax: (01) 453 7659
Page edited: 17 April 2024