If it weren't so darned important, it would be easy to dismiss the Leaving Cert. The reason it's important is simply because it's the sole measure used to decide on a student's 'application' for college. Nothing else about the person matter, only the test scores from one three week period during June of their last year in school.
Nothing else matters.
Did they underachieve? Could she have done better with different teachers? Is there a potential scholar inside that girl who only did a middling Leaving Cert? Could he be a world beater as a geneticist but for his English & Irish scores? Was the fact that she was ill or he lost his mother during May a factor in their lower scores? Could they have done better?
None of that matters.
All that matters is that the student's Leaving Cert scores. It's well past time that was changed, but the Leaving Cert's a sacred cow.
Spread out the state exams over the last three years of school. Include other factors, including aptitude tests, in college entrance requirements. Encourage (compel?) students to make a case for their admission to a particular course. That might help weed out all those who choose courses just because they "got the points."
Scrap the points system - or at least lessen its importance - and we might actually get a better second level system and more devoted, more capable third level students studying for degrees that suit them rather than in programs for which their collective Leaving results direct them.