Ask Brian: Will the new points system affect me?
Gains in some subjects will be cancelled out by losses in others for most students
From 2017 onwards, everybody who ever sat the Leaving Cert will have their results reclassified according to the new State Exams Commission (SEC) grading system. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Question: I sat my Leaving Cert in 2015 and went on to do speech therapy at Trinity. However, I am now taking a year away from college and want to choose a new course as this one was not suited to me. Will the new points system mean that when I apply to the CAO I will be at a disadvantage?
Answer: From 2017 onwards, everybody who ever sat the Leaving Cert will have their results reclassified according to the new State Exams Commission (SEC) grading system.
At both higher and ordinary level there will eight new grades, with seven 10 per cent bands from 100 downwards to 30, and one band from 30 downwards. For example, under the old system a student who got a grade of 71 per cent in English and 79 per cent in History would have secured a B3 and a B2 respectively. Under the new system, a student would receive a H3 for both subjects.
When you did the Leaving Cert in 2015 your CAO points score was calculated on the basis of your highest six subject grades from among the 14 grades available, ranging from an A1 to NG.
These grades will be recalculated according to the new points system in operation from 2017.
The only thing that will not change is that an A1, which now becomes a H1, will still secure you 100 CAO points in 2017. Other than, that the entire points system is new.
At higher level, for example, the points are as follows: a H2 (88 CAO points), a H3 (77 points), a H4 (66 points), a H5 (56 points), H6 (46 points) and a H7 (37 points).
Anyone who secured an E grade at higher level in a Leaving Cert to date will secure 33 CAO points under the new grading system.
Remember, your best six grades that count towards points – and those securing a H6 or higher in Maths will secure an additional 25 CAO points to their Maths score.
If your previous Leaving Cert percentage scores were in the bottom half of each of the 10 percentage bands, you will gain an advantage and if in the top half a disadvantage under the new points system. For example, a student with a B1, B3, C2 or D1 from a previous Leaving Cert will gain points. By contrast, those with an A2, B2, C1 or C3 will lose out.
For the vast majority of former Leaving Certs of all ages, the gains in some subjects will be cancelled out by losses in others, so it should not affect your chances of being offered a place in your chosen course.
Your decision to withdraw from your programme in Trinity, if it is not for you, was the correct one. You should use the coming year to reflect on what course will be truly in tune with your interests, aptitudes and abilities. With 500-plus points in your Leaving Cert, you should have no difficulty finding an appropriate course.