Maths grades and bonus points to grab considerable attention

New syllabus to impact on growing numbers hoping to do science courses

 Arts at UCD is expected to remain the most popular course in the State. Photograph: Eric Luke

Arts at UCD is expected to remain the most popular course in the State. Photograph: Eric Luke


Student performance in maths and science will attract considerable attention tomorrow morning as the State Examinations Commission releases Leaving Cert results for almost 57,000 students.

A particular focus on maths grades is expected as the controversial new “Project Maths” syllabus continues to be rolled out. But the impact of students pursuing bonus CAO points for maths will also be felt, particularly by the steadily rising numbers of those hoping to take up science subjects when the first round of college places are offered next Monday.

Most of this year’s two Leaving Cert maths papers, at both higher and ordinary level, were drawn from the new Project Maths syllabus, which is designed to help students apply maths to real-life situations and which was developed in response to concerns about failure rates in the subject.

From next year, the Leaving Cert maths paper will be entirely based on the Project Maths syllabus. Meanwhile, the number of students taking higher-level maths has risen by 50 per cent since the introduction of bonus CAO points in 2011.

CAO points are expected to remain broadly unchanged for most courses. Increased demand for business and commerce courses may see a slight rise in points in some universities, while there has been a slight increase in first-preference applications to engineering and technology courses, as well as to food and agriculture courses.

The largest fall in applications has been for primary teacher training courses, which have dropped by 7.5 per cent.

The number of students seeking places on science courses has not changed significantly since 2012. The numbers choosing science as their first preference rose from 10.6 per cent in 2008 to a record high of 16 per cent in 2012.


The University of Limerick, the Dublin Institute of Technology, NUI Galway and University College Dublin have indicated an increase in first-preferences for some science and business courses. In particular, demand for places on UCD’s science courses has risen by 10 per cent.

UCD received the highest number of first preferences of any institution in the State. Arts at UCD is expected to remain the most popular course in the State, although demand remains static, having fallen significantly in recent years.

NUI Galway recorded a rise of 30 per cent in first preferences – more than any other Irish university – during the CAO change-of-mind window.

Biomedical Science, which is seen as a major growth industry with a number of companies clustered around Galway, saw an increase of more than 100 first preferences.