Students must wait until Monday to find out if their results today are enough to get them into one of the college courses for which they have applied.
The CAO has received course lists from 43,968 people who undertook the Leaving Certificate in June, down from 44,769 last year. They are among 76,073 CAO applicants, which is about 160 fewer than the total numbers seeking college entry in 2011.
These slight drops are being offered as consolation to students worried about the implications of 25 bonus points boosting the scores of students with higher-level maths grades.
A Department of Education spokesperson said: “There were fewer Leaving Certificate students sitting the exam this year and the number of college places is expected to be around the same as last year. Those figures would also impact on the points needed for most courses, some of which will go down in points.”
Students should remember that the CAO counts performance in six subjects into account when ranking applicants for every course.
However, application trends do suggest that many level 8 (honours bachelor) degrees with a science element could command higher Leaving Cert points, as the number of students listing them as their first preferences has jumped 18% on last year to nearly 9,500. Conversely, however, there have been notable falls in demand for degrees in medicine and other healthcare areas, teaching, art and design, and arts.
As well as supply and demand for each of the 800-plus courses offered through the CAO, the overall Leaving Cert performance of applicants for every college programme also has an influence. With around 500 fewer mature applicants this year (down to 13,277) and a slight drop in numbers applying with further education qualifications, school leavers could have access to a slightly higher proportion of the estimated 45,500 available college places.
State Examinations Commission figures also show that there is no major rise in the numbers getting top grades in a number of Leaving Cert subjects.
For example, the 1,336 students with at least three higher level A1s (90% to 100%) is just 18 more than a year ago, although overall numbers who took the exams are down 3% on 2011.
The maximum 100 CAO points is awarded for a higher-level A1, with six subjects counted towards admission for college, although a student with a D3 grade or better in higher-level maths will get an extra 25 points this year.
The number of students who have at least 600 CAO points — having six higher-level A1s but where it is not known if one of these is in maths — is down from 163 to 150 this year. They include 38 with seven A1s, compared to 43 a year ago, and seven with eight A1s, compared to 11 last year.
Three students got top grades in nine higher-level exams, a feat not achieved by any of last year’s Leaving Cert cohort. Just under 6,100 students will find out today that they have at least one higher-level A1.
The Round 1 offers being made by the CAO next Monday will be available to check online from 6am.
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