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Monday 5 December 2016

Easing the strain for Leaving Cert students

Published 27/04/2015 | 02:30

With five weeks to go to the start of the exams, Leaving Cert candidates and their families are feeling the strain
With five weeks to go to the start of the exams, Leaving Cert candidates and their families are feeling the strain

With five weeks to go to the start of the exams, Leaving Cert candidates and their families are feeling the strain.

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The "points" system takes much of the blame: while offering transparency around college entry, it is criticised for encouraging manipulation by students, and their teachers, who can crack the exam system.

First past the post in the "points race" are those who learn off banks of answers based on previous years' papers, picking up five extra points here and there. But even they feel the pressure - those whose skills do not include regurgitation of memorised, and often meaningless, information feel it even more.

There have been concerted efforts to introduce sensible changes. All agencies and institutions at the coalface of the transition between second and third level have been involved, looking at the problem from different perspectives.

The task for the third-level colleges was to consider the mechanisms used to select first years - everything from the nature and number of courses to how Leaving Cert grades are translated into points.

They have now come up with some proposals, yet to be approved by their academic councils, where robust debate is guaranteed because, for instance, not everyone will want to award points for a "fail" on an honours paper.

It is a critical stage in an ongoing journey. Other issues, such as whether CAO applicants should get extra points for having a Leaving Cert subject relevant to their chosen course, are still being considered.

Irish Independent

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