Brian Mooney: Disappointing results? All is not yet lost

Leaving Cert 2017: Further education colleges offer a diverse array of programmes

From early on Wednesday morning, the queries poured into the Irish Times helpdesk (, where our team of guidance counsellors answered your questions in our live blog.

Given the new Leaving Cert grading system, some students and parents were confused as to how the new CAO points scale relates to the new grading system.

Even though it has been integral to the revised structure since its launch two years ago, many readers who contacted the team of guidance counsellors were unsure whether they could include the new H7 (39-30 per cent) grade in their points calculation.

Their answer is that they can, if it is among their best six grades – and the appropriate points score of 37 CAO points applies.


In the case of anyone who sat the Leaving Cert in previous years, and are now calculating their CAO score for the purposes of next Monday’s offers, a score of 33 CAO points applies to all “E” grades under the old system.

The justification for the lesser points score is because an “E” grade under the previous system applied to a grade between 39-25 as opposed to the new H7 10 per cent band.

Ordinary level maths

The largest group of disappointed students seeking our support were some of the 3,233 who had failed to secure 40 per cent on the ordinary level maths paper, thus excluding themselves from consideration by many colleges, who require this grade as a minimum entry requirement for most of their courses.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to their dilemma. In a small number of colleges, special maths exams are being offered to ordinary level students in the coming days, for those who failed to meet the required grade on Wednesday. Details below.

These students, along with thousands of others who are unhappy with a grade they secured in the Leaving Cert, can also – and most will – review their scripts on the weekend of Friday September 1st-Saturday September 2nd.

They must be personally present to view scripts. They cannot send a proxy in their place.

If they consider it worthwhile, they may then apply to have their examination scripts re-marked at a cost of €40, the results of which will be available in mid-October.

If they are upgraded – which approximately 20 per cent of those re-marked each year are – they will be retrospectively offered a place on the course they would have been offered at this stage if they had met the entry requirement for their specific course.

As many courses at that stage are halfway through the first term of lectures, many students, if successful in their appeal, choose to defer their place into 2018.

Area of career interest

An alternative option for students who have failed to secure the required grades to meet an entry requirement for their chosen courses may be to now apply to their local Further Education college, to study a programme in their area of career interest, which may bypass the need to repeat the paper in 2018.

They might also consider registering with the State Examinations Commission in the autumn to sit the subject again in June 2018, and prepare for it alongside whatever else they choose to do this year.

There are a further group of students who have not failed maths, but who have not met the minimum entry requirements for admission to a range of engineering and other programmes.

These colleges are offering special maths exams in the coming days to enable these students to have a second attempt to meet the required higher level grade. They are available at CIT (beginning Tuesday August 22nd), Maynooth University, NUI Galway and DIT (August 23rd), University of Limerick and Carlow IT (August 24th) and Waterford IT (August 25th).

Special maths exams in colleges next week:

Cork Institute of Technology: Tuesday August 22nd

Applicants for any of their courses. Students will sit two papers, one at ordinary level and a second one for those requiring a higher maths standard.

Maynooth University: Wednesday August 23rd

Electronic Engineering for those who did not secure a H4. Five-day prep course starts Monday August 21st. The content is based on Paper 1 in the Leaving Cert.

NUI Galway: Wednesday August 23rd

Department of Engineering and Informatics. Prep course starts ThursdayAugust 17th and runs to next Tuesday, August 22nd inclusive of Saturday.

Dublin IT: Wednesday August 23rd

DT302 Business Analytics and DT066 General Engineering. Prep Course August 21st and 22nd.

University of Limerick: Thursday August 24th

Science and Engineering courses at both Ordinary and Higher levels.

Carlow IT: Thursday August 24th.

CW478 Bachelor Engineering. A pass of 55 per cent is required. Prep course operates August 23rd and morning of August 24th.

Waterford IT: Friday August 25th

Any WIT course requiring maths. This exam is open to any CAO applicant to a WIT programme and is based on the ordinary level Leaving Cert syllabus.

To book a place on any of these courses, contact the colleges directly.