Minister for Education Norma Foley has wished this year's Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle students the "very best of luck" as they begin their exams.

After two years of disruption, it marks the first full return to traditional written June exams.

The minister told the 131,431 students sitting the Leaving Cert, Leaving Cert Applied and Junior Cycle exams that their hard work "will stand to you in the coming days and weeks".

The exams began with Leaving Cert students sitting English Paper 1, while Junior Cycle students kicked off their exams with English and those sitting the Leaving Cert Applied face English and Communications.

There will also be an opportunity for Leaving Cert students impacted by Covid-19 or who cannot sit exam due to a close family bereavement or serious illness or injury to sit deferred exams beginning on 30 June.

Minister Foley said holding deferred exams does have a knock-on impact on the State Examinations Commission, which has said a number of significant factors are making it impossible to determine a results date at this stage.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland also wished students success in the exams and praised their "resilience" during the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

TUI President Martin Majoram said that while the exams are important, "students should remember that they are not defined as a person by any set of examination results"

He urged them to keep things in perspective and to take care of themselves, by eating and sleeping properly and taking regular breaks during their studies.

Mr Majoram said that even if a student does not get the results they want, "there has never been a wider range of alternative routes they can take to reach their career of choice."

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland echoed this advice saying "now is the time to look after yourself".

ASTI President Eamon Dennehy told students that they have "weathered the storm" and should look forward to the next stage of their lives.

"Now is the time to look after yourself. Keep a simple routine, eat well, get exercise, build in relaxation, and take time each day to organise yourself for the day ahead."