| 6.2°C Dublin

Bonus points scheme for Higher Level really adds up

Last week's column touched on the topic of bonus points for Higher-Level Leaving Certificate maths, which is being introduced from next year, 2012.

Just to recap, 25 bonus points will be added to the standard score for any grade from an A1 to a D3 in Higher- Level maths, as one of the candidate's six best scores for points purposes. Standard points for Higher Level grades range from 100 for an A1; 90 for an A2, 85 for a B1, down by five points for every split grade to 45 points for a D3.

The bonus points are included in the overall calculation only when maths is one of the applicants' best six scores following the addition of the bonus.

A couple of specific queries on the topic came our way.

Q I plan to apply to college next year, 2012, using my 2011 LC results of 550 points. Will I be awarded 25 bonus points for my HL maths from the 2011 Leaving Cert?

AThe bonus points will be added to your 2011 maths score, and then your six best scores will be chosen for points purposes. Maths may be one of your six best, depending on how your new maths score compares with your other subject scores.

QI am doing the HPAT for entry to undergraduate medicine in 2012, but am not resitting the Leaving Cert which I took this June. I have 545 points, and have a grade C1 in Higher-Level Maths. How will my score be calculated?

AAs applicants to undergraduate medicine know, their scores are combined from Leaving Cert points and HPAT score. Before the scores are combined, Leaving Cert scores above 550 points are adjusted. After 550 points, an applicant is awarded one point for every five, so 555 becomes 551, 560 becomes 552, and so on, to a score of 560 points for 600 points (the maximum score up to now).

With the introduction of 25 maths bonus points in 2012, the top points will be 625. So in the case of undergraduate medical applicants counting maths as one of their best six scores and who achieved the maximum score, those 25 extra points will be reduced to five, so their maximum Leaving Cert points score would be 565. Your grade C1 from 2011 maths will become 95 (standard score of 70 + 25), so if that is one of your best six scores, it will be counted in your total. If your new total exceeds 550 points, it will be adjusted as described above.

Bonus schemes have operated before for Higher- Level maths. UCC and UCD operated bonus schemes in the past (before the introduction of the standardised points scheme in 1992). UL operated a bonus scheme for maths up to 2011. All will operate the new scheme from 2012.

The new scheme results from official policy to encourage the take-up of Higher-Level maths because of concerns about students' underperformance in maths and sciences, and the consequence of that for the country's economy. It should attract those who are strong maths candidates at ordinary level, but are discouraged from taking it at higher level because they believe the extra work load on that subject will pull down their other grades.

Last June (2011), 8,237 students took Higher-Level maths, and over 7,980 got a grade D3 or higher. Over 37,500 took maths at Ordinary Level, of whom 4.1pc got an A1 and 7.3pc got an A2 (about 4,275 candidates got an A grade at OL.) If even that number of Ordinary- Level candidates were encouraged to take the HL course, around 12,500 candidates at least might take Higher-Level maths.