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The 25 bonus CAO points for Higher Maths has more than doubled participation

The bonus was introduced in 2012.

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THE 25 BONUS CAO points on offer for Higher Level Maths has meant a significant jump in the number of students taking on the subject.

The bonus has been available to those who pass the subject since 2012 and in that time the number of students taking on the subject has more than doubled.

The initiative was introduced with the goal of improving skills and competitiveness in mathematic-based disciplines.

DCU’s School of Mathematical Sciences has carried out an analysis of Leaving Cert results in the last six years, including 2018, and determined that the change has led to a “dramatic and positive” change in participation levels.

The study found that the percentage of Leaving Cert students taking Higher Level Maths has increased from 15% in 2011 to 31% in 2018.

In terms of numbers, 8,600 more students took the subject this year compared to 2011.

That increase is relatively evenly split between boys and girls, with 4,338 additional female students taking the exam this year compared to 2011.

However, the number of female students taking High Level Maths had been relatively lower, so it appears that the extra points have succeeded in encouraging more girls to take the subject.

Of those who sat the exam this year, 92% passed it and will receive 25 extra CAO points.

“The bonus points are clearly serving their purpose and it is fantastic to see a significant increase in the number of female students doing well in higher Maths,” DCU’s Professor Lisa Looney said upon publication of the findings.

The challenge remains to attract more female students to build on this, by choosing STEM courses at third level.

“However a number of questions remain regarding improving general standards in maths among school-leavers,” Looney adds.

“Upping participation at higher level, while a required step, only raises general standards of maths if the curriculum – how it is taught, assessed and resourced – supports this. Mathematical under-preparedness remains a concern at third level.”

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Rónán Duffy

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