Leaving Cert Chemistry

Chemistry exists everywhere not just in laboratories but in every living thing on land and sea and in our bodies. It is often described as โ€˜the central scienceโ€™ containing a lot of formulas. So, if you enjoyed Junior Cert Science and you have done well in this and Maths you should be a good candidate for Leaving Cert Chemistry. Chemistry is an essential element in the study of careers including: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Pharmacy and Medical Laboratory Technology.

Subject Content

Leaving Cert. Chemistry is comprised of all the essential and relevant topics within general chemistry. The major topics involved include the following:

  • Atomic structure
  • Volumetric analysis
  • Organic chemistry
  • Water chemistry
  • Reaction mechanisms

There also is an option to be taken as part of the course which involves the study of atmospheric and industrial chemistry or the study of materials and electrochemistry.

Experimental investigations are an essential part of the leaving certificate course. Each student must complete at least 28 experiments over the duration of the course.
Experimental work is examined as part of the leaving cert exam and forms the basis for a minimum of three questions on the exam paper.

Exam Structure

The leaving cert exam is three hours in duration. Each candidate must answer at least two questions from Section A (experimental section) and a maximum of six questions from Section B.

There are eleven questions in total on the exam paper, each carrying fifty marks.

There is no element of continuous assessment but experimental copies must be available for inspection by the State Examinations Commission. Students taking chemistry have to memorize the chemical components of a series of prescribed experiments. They will need to present the elements of four such experiments in their exam.


It is recommended that a student undertaking the course has a good understanding of Junior Cert Science at the higher level. Each student should have an aptitude and interest for laboratory work.

A student would be expected to have a reasonable level of Junior Cert Maths, either at higher or ordinary level.

Recent observations from journalists writing about careers have suggested that the Irish Economy is experiencing a shortage of people with Chemistry skills. Yet points requirements to get into Applied Chemistry courses in Institutes of Technology are among the lowest. This is the case because the demand for these courses among school leavers is low.