Having been in Ireland for about five months and going to school here for just as long, I feel I now have an idea of how the school system works. So, I have decided to create a little guide for those of you who intend to study in Ireland, or for those of you back home who like to understand what I’m talking about half the time.
I’m a little embarrassed to say it wasn’t until this week that I actually got this all figured out, and I needed two people to explain it to me! However, it’s really not that complicated.
|Preschool||4-5 years||Junior Infants||4-5 years|
|Kindergarten||5-6 years||Senior Infants||5-6 years|
|1st grade||6-7 years||1st class||6-7 years|
|2nd grade||7-8 years||2nd class||7-8 years|
|3rd grade||8-9 years||3rd class||8-9 years|
|4th grade||9-10 years||4th class||9-10 years|
|5th grade||10-11 years||5th class||10-11 years|
|6th grade||11-12 years||6th class||11-12 years|
|7th grade||12-13 years||1st year||12-13 years|
|8th grade||13-14 years||2nd year||13-14 years|
|Freshman (9th grade)||14-15 years||3rd year||14-15 years|
|Sophomore (10th grade)||15-16 years||4th year (transition year/optional)|
|Junior (11th grade)||16-17 years||5th year||16-17 years|
|Senior (12th grade)||17-18 years||6th year||17-18 years|
While in the US most school systems have elementary school, middle school (or junior high), and high school, in Ireland its primary school (1st class through 6th class), and then Secondary school. In Ireland, the primary school you go to does not determine the secondary school you will attend. In this town, you have the option of going to an all boys school, an all girls school, a mixed school, or there is the option of going to an all Irish school.
There are two major tests an Irish student has to take during secondary school, in addition to exams and normal tests. These are the Junior Cert and the Leaving Cert. The Junior Cert is taken at the end of 3rd year, and they get their results at the beginning of either 4th year (if they chose to take that level) or 5th year. Then, at the end of 6th year they take the Leaving Cert. They must earn a certain number of points depending on the major they want in college.
When I got my exam results back at first, I didn’t realize that the percentages were different as well as the letter grade. This led to quite a bit of confusion and distress! Luckily, I found this handy little guide on the Internet! If you’re an American student abroad, there are a lot of online charts and calculators that will help you get a better idea of what your grade will transfer to.
So there you have it! An extremely simple guide to give you an idea of what the Irish school system is like!
Kayla Trowbridge is 16 years old and lives in Zionsville, Indiana. Her goal during her study abroad program is to “create relationships that will continue throughout my life and develop a new understanding of the Irish culture.” Follow Kayla’s adventure in Ireland on her blog post updates throughout her program.