Record number of Leaving Cert students land bonus points in maths

Results also show growing trend of students dropping to ordinary level maths paper

Erin McGuire talks to students at St John’s College in Ballyfermot in Dublin about their Leaving Cert results.


Entry requirements for engineering, business and several other popular courses are expected to rise this year after a record number of students gained bonus points for higher level maths in the Leaving Cert.

Some 27 per cent of students took the higher paper, up from 16 per cent in 2011. With more than 95 per cent passing the exam, there will be 13,660 students earning 25 bonus points for CAO courses, nearly 1,100 more than last year.

A 2.4 per cent increase in the overall number of students sitting the Leaving Cert this year to 56,990 will also edge up college entry requirements, as will a rise in demand for courses linked to growing sectors of the economy.

Chart: Leaving Cert A1s Higher Level

Demand for architecture is up 13.5 per cent, engineering 5.8 per cent, law 5.5 per cent and business 4.4 per cent.

Science places

There was also a rise of 8 per cent in those seeking science places at ordinary degree or higher cert level.

While the number of students sitting higher level maths reached a record 14,326, the figures mask a growing trend of students dropping to ordinary level prior to examination day.

Some 17,065 students had registered to sit higher level maths this year but 16 per cent of these then opted for the easier paper. No other subject sees such a rate of drop-downs, with just 6 per cent of Irish and English higher level students opting to take the ordinary paper after registration.

Rewarding students

The pattern will strengthen the argument for rewarding students who attempt the honours paper but fail to make the 40 per cent grade, as recommended by a new discussion paper.

The document, circulated by a task group of the Irish Universities Association, notes that both the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examinations Commission had asked higher education institutions to consider awarding points for any mark above 30 per cent.

Despite perceived risks, the numbers taking higher level papers continues to rise, not just in maths (up 10 per cent on last year) but also physics (up 12 per cent), chemistry (up 7 per cent), agricultural science (up 6.4 per cent) and biology (up 4.5 per cent).

One student got nine A1s, matching the feat achieved last year by Mark Berney of Gorey Community School. Some 13 students got eight A1s this year.

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