Rise in those sitting higher maths ensures race for third-level courses continues

Pass in higher maths guarantees 25 bonus points for students

The numbers signing on for higher maths has increased by 2,129 on last year to more than 14,500. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

The numbers signing on for higher maths has increased by 2,129 on last year to more than 14,500. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 01:15


Upward pressure on the points needed for third-level courses looks set to continue given a sharp increase in the numbers of students taking higher maths in the Leaving Certificate this year.

The numbers signing on for higher maths has increased by 2,129 on last year to more than 14,500 as students avail of the 25 bonus points that come with a pass. It will mean higher points for the most popular courses offered through the CAO system, according to education commentators.

The Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations get under way tomorrow with more than 114,000 students involved, according to the State Examinations Commission. The exams conclude on June 21st.

Bonus points were introduced for higher maths last year to encourage proficiency in the subject. However, it had a significant impact on the CAO points demands for many courses, particularly information technology, sciences and engineering, said one source.

“The pressure on kids to achieve the points they need for college courses with strong employment potential is rising,” said the commentator.

Science at University College Dublin was a case in point said guidance counsellor and Irish Times columnist Brian Mooney. In UCD points for science climbed from a low of 305 a few years ago to 500 in 2012.

The influence of the bonus points won’t be as bad as last year “but you would have to combine it with the application patterns for the CAO which will emerge in July”, he said.

Cutbacks meant less capacity to absorb rising numbers seeking access to third level and growing demand would push points upwards.