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Students should have bonus option

IN parallel with the debate about project maths is the question of whether bonus points should be given for maths.

Rather than just having bonus points for one subject, why not consider extending this concept using a system of weighting the points in various subjects?

Taking six or more subjects could still be obligatory in order to matriculate and encourage a broad set of skills and knowledge, but in addition to this each college course could name particular subjects they would accept as “weighted subjects” – even going so far as to decide the “weighting factor” they would place on particular subjects. Then candidates’ results could be optimised by using the weighting factor in those particular subjects to assist entry to their chosen courses.

For example, a science course might specify that any science subject or maths carries “weighted” points of a factor of two (ie, double points, or it could just as easily be, for example, 1.5 times the points) and a language or humanities course could specify any language, English or history to carry weighted points of a factor of two or 1.5, or other. Students could be allowed up to a certain number of subject weightings, say a maximum of four subjects. This would allow both the college system and individual students to benefit from their strengths and hopefully students would be more likely to end up in a discipline that suited their abilities and retention rates might improve. Surely a scheme such as this is possible for the CAO points and third-level entry system? It’s not rocket science.

Alison Hackett

Institute of Physics in Ireland

c/o School of Physics

Science Centre North



Dublin 4


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