Leaving Cert and the points race

A chara, – I must confess to becoming fatigued at your regular conflation of the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and the Central Applications Office (CAO). The SEC administers the Leaving Certificate (still the widest held qualification in Ireland); the CAO administers entry to higher education. It takes 40 per cent to pass a Leaving Certificate subject. A 7 grade (30 to 39 per cent) in the Leaving Certificate, just like the pre-2017 E grade (25 to 39 per cent), is a fail. The only difference between post-2017 and pre-2017 is that the higher education institutions (HEIs), through CAO, allow applicants to matriculate with a H7 and award a H7 37 points for the purposes of competitive entry to HEIs. – Is mise,



Co Dublin.


Sir, – While advocates for the new points system for the Leaving Cert may claim that it reduces pressure for some students, other students can validly assert that their achievement levels are not adequately rewarded. By reducing the number of marking bands or intervals from 14 to eight, the system fails to give appropriate recognition to those students scoring at the higher end of the interval. In fact, these changes contradict measurement theory by reducing the reliability or the differentiation of the results.

Indeed there may be an unintended knock-on effect because if more students obtain higher point totals, the requisite points threshold for a particular discipline will also rise. So much for lowering stress. – Yours, etc,



New York.