Average Leaving cert points

Average Leaving Cert Points 2018-2022: Know Exactly What to Expect in 2023!

The last couple of years have seen a lot of changes to the average Leaving Cert points…

Ever since the pandemic hit our shores back in 2020, the points system has been in a hoop. That summer, the Leaving Cert didn’t even go ahead – students were given predicted grades based on their performance in their 5th and 6th year. These predicted grades were heavily inflated and had a dramatic impact on the average Leaving Cert points. 

As a result, the points for courses across the country skyrocketed, with some even going as high as 625. The heightened average Leaving Cert points from 2020 had a trickle-down effect on the years that followed, but things are slowly starting to go back to normal.

That said, it is important to understand the trends in the average Leaving Cert points so that you know what to aim for in your exams. It’s no longer good enough to look at the average Leaving Cert points from last year – you need to research the minimum entry points for the last few years and make an educated guess as to what you will need for the same course this year.

In this article, we will go over the average Leaving Cert points from 2018 up to last year to show you just how much things were changed, so that you can make preparations for the future!

(Psst! The Leaving Cert Timetable 2023 has been published! And we’ve prepared a 2-hour maths crash course which is the final boost you need to be prepped, ready, and confident to walk into the exams!)

How do I calculate my CAO Points?

Before we get started, it is important that you know how to calculate your points. This is a three-step process:

Firstly, the number of marks you score in your subject as a percentage of the total available marks is calculated. For example, in Leaving Cert Maths, there are a total of 600 marks available, and a student may have achieved a total of 320 marks, meaning they achieved approximately 53% of the total 600.

The percentage achieved in the subject is then matched with the relevant grade on the revised grading system. The 53% from the previous example corresponds to a H5 or an O5, depending on whether the subject was sat at Higher or Ordinary Level.

Finally, as every grade has a corresponding amount of CAO points, a student’s total CAO points are calculated by adding together the corresponding points of their six best subjects from one sitting of the exams. This does not have to include core subjects. In the previous example, a H5 would be worth 56 points, and an O5 would be worth 20.

Now that you know how to calculate CAO points, let’s have a look at the points trends from the last couple of years.

Leaving Cert Points Statistics 2018-2022

This table shows the number of students who achieved within a certain range of points, as a percentage of the total number of students who sat the Leaving Cert in the respective year. 

Points Achieved 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
600-625 1.3 1.4 3.1 5.7 5.5
500-599 11.9 11.9 16.5 20.9 19.6
400-499 24.0 24.1 27.7 27.9 26.5
300-399 24.9 25.4 24.7 22.2 23.5
200-299 19.5 19.1 15.8 13.0 14.6
100-199 12.0 11.7 8.3 6.3 7.0
0-99 6.5 6.4 3.9 3.9 3.3
Source: CAO.ie

As you can see from this table, the average Leaving Cert points have gone up significantly since COVID-19. More people are achieving higher points overall. Achieving 500 points in 2021 is not the same flex as it was back in 2018!

This rise in average Leaving Cert points can also be attributed to the growing grinds culture in Ireland. People are starting to see that if you want to get into top college courses, you need more than just the help of your teacher to hit those high points.

If you need extra help with Leaving Cert Maths, you can join our Online Maths Grinds. We provide weekly notes and questions to enhance your maths skills. Our small online classes consist of 6 students or fewer to ensure that every student gets the best guidance possible. We also offer WhatsApp support for any extra queries outside of our grinds! 

You can check our online maths video resources or book a free trial grind to start your journey!

What are the average Leaving Cert points?

The average Leaving Cert points in Ireland fall between 400 and 419 points as of 2022. 

That’s a pretty significant increase from the 2018 average of about 340 to 349 points.

But, again, this is due to a number of factors, and it’s likely to continue changing over the next couple of years, so for now it’s probably best to give it a broader range of between 340 and 440 points.

What is the highest number of points possible to achieve from the Leaving Cert?

The highest possible point that can be achieved in the Leaving Cert is 625 points. But where did those extra 25 points come from? 

Well, if a student takes Higher Level Maths and achieves a H6 or more, they will be awarded an extra 25 CAO points.

So, for passing the Higher Level Maths papers, you will be generously rewarded. It’s a pretty good incentive to do Higher Maths, but you definitely shouldn’t do it for this reason alone.

Leaving Cert Subject Statistics

This table shows the average Leaving Cert points obtained from various subjects at Higher Level over the last couple of years:

Subject 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Accounting 65 65 76 79 70
Agricultural Science 62 58 69 71 70
Ancient Greek 74 90
Applied Maths 71 70 82 85 78
Arabic 67 68 84 90 78
Art 66 66 73 75 75
Biology 65 63 69 73 71
Business 64 64 70 73 71
Chemistry 65 66 74 76 69
Classical Studies 61 67 75 80 72
Computer Science 67 71 75
Design and Communication Graphics 69 70 77 79 76
Economics 65 64 71 75 76
Engineering 69 66 72 73 75
English 65 65 69 72 72
French 65 67 70 72 72
Gaeilge 69 69 73 75 74
Geography 64 65 68 72 73
German 66 65 71 73 74
History 67 68 72 76 75
Home Economics 67 68 72 75 73
Italian 72 75 76 83 83
Japanese 69 70 76 81 79
Latin 78 80 90 88 85
Lithuanian 78 85
Mandarin-Chinese 96
Mathematics 65 64 69 73 76
Music 75 77 80 83 86
Physical Education 73 72
Physics 63 63 73 76 71
Physics and Chemistry 59 60 69 74 65
Polish 80 87
Politics and Society 64 69 72 72
Portuguese 77 97
Religious Education 68 67 71 76 74
Russian 92 91 96 94 92
Spanish 68 67 72 76 76
Technology 68 67 73 76 77
Adapted from CareersPortal (https://cc.careersportal.ie/school/lc_marks_distribution.php)

Once again, the points have shifted a lot since the pandemic. Also, it’s important to note that just because the average points for a particular subject are high, it doesn’t mean that that subject is easy to do well in (we have actually figured out which subjects are easier though, so check out our blog if you want to know too!)

A lot of the students who pick things like Applied Maths are already very strong Maths students, so they will perform better than students in Mathematics on average, because everyone has to do Mathematics, regardless of where their strengths lie.

(But even if maths isn’t your strong point, you can sign up for grinds with Breakthrough Maths to help you get the best grade possible!)

So how do I maximise my points potential and get my dream course?

The truth is, there is no shortcut to a great Leaving Cert.

You’re going to have to work hard if you want to do really well. There’s a reason why so few students are hitting the top points – not everyone is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because more people are getting higher points that the Leaving Cert has gotten easier – it hasn’t.

If anything, grade inflation is a reason to work harder, because the dust still hasn’t settled in terms of course points. Many courses still have very high points from the high results seen during the pandemic years.

It is difficult to know exactly what course points will look like in 2023. But you can expect little change from the last two years – things aren’t going to go back to normal that quickly.

If you have your heart set on a particular college course, the only way to ensure you will get it is to have a look back on the previous 3 or 4 years and see what the minimum entry points were, and base your points goal off that.

We give more advice on filling out the CAO and picking out the right college course for you in another one of our blogs.

In the meantime, the best approach to take is to work smart and work hard – it will pay off in the end.

Stay tuned for more Leaving Cert advice!

T.J – CEO of Breakthrough Maths.

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