Fail grades to receive CAO points in new Leaving Cert system

Leaving Certificate students who previously failed after receiving an E grade in their Leaving cert will now receive CAO points under changes that were formally announced last week. 

The new grading criteria for students sitting the Leaving Certificate in 2017 will result in students who attain a grade between the 30 and 39 per cent bracket now receiving 37 CAO points.

Third level institutions have decided that this grading criteria will also be applicable to students who received this grade in 2016 and any prior year.

Another key change is that students who previously received a D1 grade in their leaving certificate, which is between 50 and 55 per cent, will be allowed access to honour level degree courses for the first time.

Before this, many honour degree courses required entrants to have a minimum of two C3s, which is a mark of between 55 and 59 percent.

The change was implemented in order to level out matriculation and  the grading system between those who are sitting their leaving cert in 2017 onwards and those sat it in the past.

These changes will have a huge effect on students who did not meet the entry requirements for university or honour degree courses last year and are thinking of repeating.

For example, in the 2016 Leaving Certificate, 4.6 per cent of students who studied higher level maths failed it. Those who failed and received an E will now be able to acquire CAO points for their grade and may be able to attend third level next year rather than repeating their exams.

As a result, this could lead to an increase in students who are eligible to, and desire to, attend bachelor honour degree courses from next year on.

However, as a result in the change of the grading system, some course entry requirements are increasing, a factor students should note if thinking about undertaking a level 8 course.

The new grading system was brought in to reduce the pressure on Leaving Certificate students, and to make third level education more accessible.

Shauna Bowers

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