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common points scale

The Leaving Cert results are out today - But here's why you won't be seeing any As, Bs or Cs this year

Don’t worry, it’s not because everyone failed.

STUDENTS ACROSS THE country will be waking up today in anticipation of getting their Leaving Cert results.

For the over 58,000 people who took the Leaving Certificate examination this year, the wait will soon be over.

But there will be no As, Bs or Cs on the results sheet this year, as 2017 is the first time a new grading scheme will be used.

Introducing: The common points scale.

What is the common points scale?

The common points scale is the way in which Leaving Cert examinations will be marked from this year onwards.

It does away with the letter grades of old (which have been in place since 1992), introducing instead a specific 1-8 scale of grades for Higher and Ordinary levels.

The new system came about as a result of consultation between the Department of Education and the various universities and institutes of technology across the country.

The various bodies said that this reformed marking scale has been introduced in order to “improve the transition from second to third level”.

The idea was to use fewer broad grade bands which the Department says will “fairly reward scholastic achievement” and “ease the pressure on students to achieve marginal gains in examinations”.

So what is the scale and how does it differ from the old system?

Under the new scale, students will be awarded a grade from 1-8 based on the results they achieve in each subject.

So for Higher level students, the available grades will range from H1 to H8.

For Ordinary level students, the available grades will range from O1 to O8.

The percentage that a student scores in each examination will correspond then to one of these grades. The list of grades for each percentage achieved in an exam is laid out below:

lcgrades3 The grades available for each percentage score on the Leaving Cert.

The new system differs from the old in a number of key areas. Namely:

  • It reduces the number of available grade bands from 14 to 8
  • It should reduce the need for random selection in college courses (as a result of the reduction in grade bands)
  • Students who get a H7 grade (formerly an E grade in Higher Level) will now receive 37 points (when previously they received no points)

What points correspond to each grade?

So, the points going for each grade have been altered to reflect the new scale.

A H1 grade will still get you 100 points (similar to an A1), while an O1 grade will get you 56 points.

The value for grades roughly descends then by 10 and 11 points as it goes down through the results.

The full list of points for each grade is laid out here:

LCGrades The new common points system grades and the values for each grade. CAO CAO

As you can see, a H7 grade will give a student 37 points, while an O7 grade is worth nothing in points.

The Department said awarding points for a H7 was in order to “reflect the level of achievement represented by a H7 and to encourage the take-up of higher level subjects”.

How do the new points values compare to the old system?

The reduction in specific grade bands (from 14 to eight) means that there will be some crossover in the points allotted for old grades.

For example, a H3 in the new system will give a student 77 points. Whereas in the old system, a higher Level B2 would have been worth 80 points and a B3 75 points.

Under the new system, if a person was translating their points from a previous Leaving Cert, both a Higher Level B2 and a B3 would be worth 77 points.

This crossover also applies to A2 and B1; C1 and C2; C3 and D1; and D2 and D3.

The full list of what old grades would be worth under the new system is below:

LcGrades2 What Leaving Cert grades in the old system are worth under the new points system. CAO CAO

Has the CAO system changed and do old grades count anymore?

There will be no change to the CAO system with the introduction of this new marking scheme.

This means that the application and offer process of old will remain – except now the examinations will be marked differently.

Meaning the CAO points will be different this year for students.

Where previously Leaving Cert grades were measured by margins of 5 points, the new system will have a number of uneven marks, which will alter all the CAO points for each college course.

If you completed your Leaving Cert prior to 2017, your results will stay the same (ie, A, B, C, etc).

However if you are applying through the CAO from this year onwards, your old points will be converted via the new common points scale.

This will mean the points you have will likely change (and may even go down), but as everyone is using the same scale when applying it should not make a difference.

You can get more info on the new system at

Read: From Paralympians to mature students – Leaving Cert students come from all walks of life

Read: Free shots and Jägerbombs: Parents told to warn Leaving Cert students of ‘pervasive’ drinks promos

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