We believe that if a student experiences a medical emergency (such as a seizure) during their exam and is unable to complete their exam, they should be given the opportunity to re-sit that exam within the deferred exam cycle.
This issue is of particular importance with regard to the Leaving Certificate exam.
Considerable progress was made on this matter in 2022 with the introduction of deferred examinations. The criteria for these examinations allows for a student with epilepsy who experiences a seizure before their exam - that leaves them unable to complete an exam or exams - to apply for access to a deferred sitting.
However, the criteria specifically stated that those who experience a medical emergency (such as a seizure) during their exam will not have access to the deferred sitting. According to the SEC, this is to protect the integrity of the exams.
Due to the nature of epilepsy, seizures can be unpredictable. Stress and anxiety can lower a person’s seizure threshold and the Leaving Cert can be one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life. For a student with epilepsy, they have the heightened anxiety knowing that if they have a seizure during their exam and are unable to complete it, that the only option for them is to repeat the exam a year later and not be potentially eligible to access the deferred exam cycle after the main sitting.
We are working to have this addressed in order to build on the progress made so far on this matter.
How can I help?
You can help by highlighting this issue with your local TD & Senator so they can raise this matter and seek that the necessary changes are made. A template letter is available for download at the end of this article, while you can find details of your local representative by visiting the Oireachtas website.
The below articles are some of the latest updates on this matter and associated articles in the news section of our website where you can read more.
- January 2023 - Epilepsy Ireland to meet Minister for Education on deferred exams eligibility criteria
- December 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland & Irish Epilepsy League to meet with State Exams Commission in the New Year
- September 2022 - Deferred Exam Criteria raised in Oireachtas Committee
- September 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland to meet Minister for Education regarding deferred exams eligibility criteria
- September 2022 - Irish Times; ‘I danced around the room’: Student who had epileptic seizure during exam delighted with results
- July 2022 - Irish Epilepsy League echo Epilepsy Ireland's calls on Deferred Exams criteria
- July 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland contact Minister for Education regarding deferred examination eligibility criteria
- July 2022 - Irish Times highlights issues surrounding deferred sitting criteria
- July 2022 - Irish Times; ‘It’s not fair’: Leaving Cert student who had epileptic seizure not allowed to resit exam
- July 2022 - Issues surrounding deferred examinations raised in the Dáil
- June 2022 - Irish Examiner; Accommodations in the Leaving Cert for people with disabilities
- June 2022 - Irish Examiner; Students who suffer medical emergencies 'should have access to deferred exams'
- June 2022 - Irish Times; Student who left Leaving Cert exam due to medical emergency permitted to re-sit paper
- June 2022 - Details on Deferred Leaving Cert Examinations announced.
- April 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland to meet with SEC regarding alternate Leaving Cert sitting.
- April 2022 - Irish Times; Students with epilepsy must be allowed sit alternate Leaving Cert exams
- April 2022 - Alternate exam sittings raised in the Dáil
- February 2022 - Reasonable Accommodations for students with epilepsy raised in the Dáil
- October 2021 - Epilepsy Ireland contact Minister for Education regarding alternate sitting of State Exams in 2022
- July 2021 - Department of Education Press Centre; Announcement of Alternate sitting of Leaving Cert exams in 2022
- June 2021 - Irish Times; We’ve built a highly stressful Leaving Cert exam where conditions like epilepsy don’t matter
- May 2021 - #EpilepsyWeek Day 2 - Irish public express overwhelming support for two epilepsy advocacy issues
- May 2019 - Department of Education Press Centre; Announcement of provision of alternate sitting of Leaving Cert for those who are bereaved
- June 2017 - Irish Independent; Leaving Cert exam system not fair to students with epilepsy
- November 2016 - “New reforms by State Exams Commission do not go far enough” – Epilepsy Ireland
- April 2016 - Irish Times; Epilepsy and the Leaving Cert: ‘If it strikes, that exam is over for me’