A proposed new CAO points system will cut pressure on school-leavers and encourage more to take higher level papers, education chiefs claim.
Under the revamped college-entry scale, students who get less than 40% on a higher Leaving Certificate exam will be awarded points for the first time.
Until now, scores under 40% were effectively regarded as a fail.
But an overhaul of the system will see those who get between 30 and 39% in a higher Leaving Cert exam being awarded 37 points.
The new scale will also allow for more variation in points awarded to students, instead of the usual five-point increments.
This was designed to reduce the number of school-leavers having the exact same points score, and so being subjected to random selection by their preferred college or university where spaces were limited.
The new scheme will begin in 2017 and apply to pupils starting fifth year this week.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the overhaul would work alongside the new Leaving Certificate grading system announced earlier this year.
“Together, these reforms will help to reduce the pressure on students at exam time and enable them to have a broader and more-rounded learning experience in their senior cycle,” she said.
“The new scale has been designed to minimise random selection for third level entry, which can be a source of huge frustration for students and their families.
“It will also reward students who aim higher, both where they take the risk of sitting a higher level paper and for succeeding in those papers to a high standard.”
Professor Andrew Deeks, of the Irish Universities Association, said the changes will reduce pressure on students and allow for greater flexibility in assessments.
“The revised common points scale, while maintaining the current relative alignment between higher level and ordinary level, should minimise the use of random selection in the admissions process and encourage students to take the higher level curricula,” he added.