I plan to sit the Leaving Cert in November alongside college. Am I taking on too much?

Ask Brian: It won’t be easy. But if you are genuinely dissatisfied, it is worth the effort to secure those extra CAO points

Anecdotally, many who have registered to the Leaving Cert in Novemeber have yet to make up their mind as to whether they will sit the exams. Photograph: iStock

Anecdotally, many who have registered to the Leaving Cert in Novemeber have yet to make up their mind as to whether they will sit the exams. Photograph: iStock

 

I started my fourth-choice college course this week, but it’s not what I want to do. I want to try my hand at three subjects in the November Leaving Cert exams to see if I can get additional CAO points. Am I biting off more than I can chew?

I am aware that, anecdotally, many who have registered with the State Examinations Commission by last Friday did so with a low level of commitment to turning up on the day. Many are simply keeping their options open for the moment. The fact that there was no financial charge made it an easy decision for many of last year’s sixth year students.

If you are genuinely dissatisfied with the course you have just registered for, then I think it is worth the effort to try to secure those extra CAO points

The question that now arises for you and many others is whether you take on a full undergraduate degree programme alongside seriously revising for three Leaving Cert subjects over the next six weeks?

If you are genuinely dissatisfied with the course you have just registered for, then I think it is worth the effort to try to secure those extra CAO points which even one higher grade will entitle you to.

If you sit the Leaving Cert in the three subjects you are registered for in November and are upgraded sufficiently in one or more to qualify for a place in any of your higher course preferences from this year’s CAO list, you will be offered a deferred college place for the 2021/22 academic year when the results are issued in February.

Offer

All first-year college students who become entitled to a higher CAO offer as a result of sitting the November exams will not lose out financially on fee charges or grants by switching to their new course the following year.

Given the incredible capacity of the human brain, it should be relatively easy to bring yourself back to a competitive place with a structured programme of work over the coming weeks

Or, alternatively, you could apply to the CAO again for a place in 2021 based solely on your 2020 calculated grades and secure an offer if points come back to 2019 levels following a traditional Leaving Cert exam in June 2021. But, in that case you will pay full fees for the first year of the new course including the HEA funding element which will be a minimum of an additional euro8,000.

Given that you probably haven’t looked at the Leaving Cert course content since early May, when the August exams were abandoned, it may seem like a big ask to revise all that content again now alongside your new university course work.

On the plus side, given the incredible capacity of the human brain, it should be relatively easy to bring yourself back to a competitive place with a structured programme of work over the coming weeks. Afterall, given present Covid 19 restrictions, you probably have little else to occupy your time.

It won’t be easy. And we don’t know yet whether marking schemes for the November exams will be based on the normal grade distribution or the above-average grades in this year’s calculated grades process.

Do you have a query? Email askbrian@irishtimes.com