Fill out the form below to complete choices for the Leaving Cert Senior Cycle. Incoming students will not know their Tutors or Class Group until September.
Fill out the form below to complete choices for the Leaving Cert Senior Cycle. Incoming students will not know their Tutors or Class Group until September.
Each college has its own basic minimum entry – or matriculation – requirements without which no student can be enrolled. In addition many courses require particular grades in certain subjects. This is a master chart of college matriculation and course subject requirements stated in terms of Leaving Certificate subjects at Higher or Ordinary level.
Check the college websites or qualifax.ie for absolute certainty.
· Nursing does NOT require a foreign language
· Engineering and most Science also do not require a foreign language
· Double check all of this information on the college websites or qualifax.ie
· Most Honours Degree Courses have minimum requirements of 3HCs and 3ODs
· Some I.T.s accept Foundation Maths for entry to many courses – check on the college websites
Simply put, you need to decide what:
Here are some student experiences to help make your decision.
My choices and why I made them
I am a first year medical student in UCD and I got straight As in my Leaving Cert last year. I went to Blackrock College for most of my secondary schooling but moved to the Institute of Education for the exam year. At that stage I reconsidered the levels at which I was taking key subjects, and chose to move to ordinary level in maths and Irish.
I chose higher English, ordinary maths, ordinary Irish, French, geography, physics, chemistry and music. Taking music was a great move for me. If you have a talent outside of school that can have any application to any subject, take that subject.
For me, I could wrap up nearly 50 per cent (if all went well) before I even opened a textbook which meant the pressure was off when it came to the written music exam.
The other thing that really saved me during the year was the level I took each subject at. Everyone remembers the debacle that was Maths Paper 1 last year. I felt really lucky to have opted to go with ordinary maths. And even though the maths paper was marked fairly and everyone got the grade they probably deserved, the blow to your mental state that that exam could have caused could have had a knock-on into other subjects. I know it can happen in any subject, but it just reaffirms the fact that if you’re ever teetering on the brink between higher and ordinary, on a subject that you may very well not count, make life easier for yourself where possible.
I did mechanical engineering at DIT. I got 420 points. Based on my interests I chose construction, engineering, biology and chemistry. I had won awards in engineering in school and I come from a family of builders and tradespeople so it wasn’t a difficult choice for me to take those subjects for the Leaving.
I have a personal interest in psychology as well so I took the science subjects to keep my options open there. If I decided against engineering at college in the end, I would still be able to pursue the science route.
Despite this I still managed to severely limit myself with the subject choices that I made at school. I decided against taking a language because I never enjoyed the way languages are taught at school and I felt that I wouldn’t do that well in French and so I would lose points in the process. My careers guidance counsellor at the time warned me that without a language I would be closing off the option of going to many of the universities, but I didn’t really take it on board. As it turns out, I’m delighted I went to DIT, but I still think I made that choice without fully considering the doors I was closing.
The other door I closed was honours maths – by opting to go down to ordinary level I closed off the option of doing engineering at DCU. I chose the subjects based on maximising my points rather than leaving all courses open to me. It was a gamble that a lot of students have to take.
It was all based on the fact that I had made up my mind about doing mechanical engineering. Looking back, I probably should have researched the course a bit better. It was not what I expected at all – much more theoretical and less practical than engineering at Leaving Cert. It worked out in the end and I have my degree, but I made very specific subject choices based on a course that I didn’t really know much about.
I’d like to have a European language now but I still don’t think it would have served me well to keep French on at school. I might take up a language now, but if I do it will just be for conversational use.
I’m a final year student of arts (English and geography) at UCD. The course required 370 points the year I did the Leaving, which was reasonable. I chose English, Irish, maths, German, geography, biology and social and scientific.
Some of my subjects worked out well in terms of exams. I did well in both my geography and English exams, which were my favourite subjects to study then and still are today.
Staying with higher level Irish, on reflection, was a peculiar choice. Irish has always been one of my weakest subjects, which is a shame.
I kept with higher level for the final exam, and so I was never expecting an A in that! Despite that I don’t think I would change anything, because it was all part of the journey that got me to where I am today.
My best advice to students choosing subjects now is to choose something you really do enjoy, if you intend to carry on with it as I did. Many undergraduates, as high as one in three in some courses, drop out before Christmas of their first year, due to poor course choice. This is often a continuation of poor subject choices made for the Leaving Cert.
What level of Mathematics would be suitable for me?
Mathematics is available for study at three levels, Foundation, Ordinary, and Higher, and each level covers everything in the levels below it. Students are encouraged to study at the level appropriate to their needs and aspirations. There are many careers which require or benefit greatly from having a higher level of mathematics, and it’s a good idea to research these before coming to a decision.
Aiming for Higher Level:
Mathematics at higher level is designed to suit the needs of all students, whether they’re continuing their study of mathematics to third level, studying it as a compliment to another subject (such as Business or Physics), or just looking for points. The course familiarises students with the ideas of abstraction and rigorous proof, giving learners a feeling for the great mathematical concepts that span many centuries and cultures, as well as covering practical everyday topics which students are meeting in their lives outside school.
The higher level course is demanding, but very rewarding, both in terms of intellectual achievement and potential career paths opened. Worldwide, and particularly in Ireland there is huge demand for students who are technically capable, and higher level mathematics trains students in exactly the skills they’ll need to succeed.
From a careers perspective, students considering a career in any area of science, medicine, engineering, business, or finance should be studying higher level maths if at all possible, as large portions of the higher level course will be reviewed or assumed at third level. There are of course many other careers and courses which benefit from a knowledge of higher level maths.
Aiming for Ordinary Level:
At ordinary level, students are offered mathematics that is meaningful, relatively accessible, and chosen with the understanding that many of them may go on to use and apply mathematics in their future careers, and all of them will meet the subject to a greater or lesser degree in their daily lives. The course starts with practical and familiar problems, and gradually introduces more abstract ideas, leading towards the use of academic mathematics in the context of further study.
Most Leaving Cert students sit the ordinary level maths exam, often having dropped down from higher level due to increased pressure in sixth year. Passing ordinary level maths is extremely important, as the majority of CAO courses require at least a D3; and students who don’t meet this requirement are often left with few to no third level education options.
Aiming for Foundation Level:
At foundation level, mathematics is about developing maths as a body of knowledge and skills that makes sense, and can be used in many different ways as good method of solving problems and finding answers. It’s intended to equip learners with the knowledge and skills required in everyday life, and it is also intended to lay the groundwork for learners who may proceed to further studies in areas in which specialist mathematics is not required.
The course focuses primarily on fundamental skills and providing a basic but solid understanding of mathematical concepts which will remain relevant and useful in the future. As well as numerical problems, students can also expect to be presented with visual and spatial questions, as well as some theory.
Taking foundation maths has the disadvantage of making many CAO courses inaccessible, which may have serious implications for students considering third level education.
Check here for what courses require or don’t require Honours Maths
Subject Choices for Forms V and VI
Irish*, English, Maths
*A small number are exempt due to a Specific Learning Difficulty or having lived abroad until their 11th birthday
Most students take 7 subjects – 3 core subjects and 1 from from 4 of the 5 subjects groups below. Some students take 8 subjects. This can be beneficial if you are not 100% sure of your subject choice or may drop levels at a later stage (e.g Honours to Ordinary Maths)
Leaving Cert Subject Groups
|Group 2||Geography||History||Applied Maths|
|Group 3||Physics||Home Ec.||Accounting||Ag. Science||German|
|Group 4||Chemistry||Economics||Construction||Biology||Ag. Science|
Religious Education, Physical Education, Careers Guidance, SPHE
About the LCVP
The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) is an intervention designed to enhance the vocational dimension of the Leaving Certificate (established). The programme was introduced in 1994 in response to the challenge placed on Ireland’s education system by a changing work and business environment. The LCVP combines the academic strengths of the Leaving Certificate (established) with a new and dynamic focus on self–directed learning, innovation and enterprise. This two-year programme is part of an expanded provision that aims to cater for the diversity of participants’ needs at senior cycle.
The primary goal of the LCVP is to prepare young people for adult life by ensuring that they are educated in the broadest sense, with an ability to cope and thrive in an environment of rapid change. Participants in the programme are encouraged to develop skills and competencies fundamental to both academic and vocational success.
Throughout the programme students are encouraged to:
These skills and qualities are equally relevant to the needs of those preparing for further education, seeking employment or planning to start their own business.
The strong vocational focus of the LCVP is achieved by arranging Leaving Certificate subjects into Vocational Subject Groupings (VSGs) and through the provision of additional courses of study in work preparation and enterprise known as the Link Modules.
Programme Requirements for students taking Leaving Certificate Examination from 2004 onwards
Two subjects are selected from one of the Vocational Subject Groupings. These subjects provide students with a focus for developing vocational skills and exploring their career options.
The Specialist Groupings consist of subjects which complement one another naturally. The Services Groupings comprise subjects which complement one another in a commercial context.
|Vocational Subject Groupings (VSGs) 2011/2012|
1 Construction Studies; Engineering; Design and Communication Graphics; Technology - Any Two
2 Physics and Construction Studies or Engineering or Technology or Design & Communication Graphics
3 Agricultural Science and Construction Studies or Engineering or Technology or Design & Communication Graphics
4 Agricultural Science and Chemistry or Physics or Physics/Chemistry
5 Home Economics; Agricultural Science; Biology – Any Two
6 Home Economics and Art – Design Option or Craft Option
7 Accounting; Business; Economics – Any two
8 Physics and Chemistry
9 Biology and Chemistry or Physics or Physics/Chemistry
10 Biology and Agricultural Science
11 Art – Design Option or Craft Option and Design & Communication Graphics
|12 Engineering or Technology or Construction Studies or Design & Communication Graphics and Accounting or Business or Economics
13 Home Economics and Accounting or Business or Economics
14 Agricultural Science and Accounting or Business or Economics
15 Art Design or Craftwork Option and Accounting or Business or Economics
16 Music and Accounting or Business or Economics
Students taking the Leaving Certificate Examination from 2004 onwards will follow two Link Modules over the course of the two years.
Link Module I – Preparation for the World of Work
Students will research and investigate local employment opportunities, develop job seeking skills such as letter writing, CV presentation, interview techniques; gain valuable practical experience of the world of work; interview and work shadow a person in a career area that interests them
Link Module II – Enterprise Education
Students will be involved in organising visits to local business and community enterprises; meet and interview enterprising people on site and in the classroom; plan and undertake interesting activities that will build self–confidence, creativity, initiative and develop teamwork, communication and computer skills.
Students taking the LCVP will have an opportunity to develop and apply their IT skills. Students should also have an opportunity to use audio-visual equipment and computer presentation packages for recording and presentation purposes. During the course of the programme students will develop skills to:
The use of active teaching and learning methodologies is encouraged across the LCVP curriculum. Experiences such as work placement, career investigation, mini–enterprise, business and community visits are an integral part of the programme. The Link Modules encourage students to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired through their Vocational Subjects and in other areas of their Leaving Certificate. Vocational relevance is enhanced by putting in place opportunities for students to plan, organise and engage in active learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.
LCVP students follow the same subject syllabi and are assessed in the same way as their peers in the Leaving Certificate. For the Link Modules they are assessed by Written Examination (40%) and by Portfolio of Coursework (60%). The written examination takes place in May of the Leaving Certificate Year. The examination is of two and a half hours duration and consists of three sections which are outline below.
The structure of the Written Examination is as follows:
Section A Audio Visual Presentation
Section B Case Study (received in advance by students)
Section C General Questions (4 out of 6)
The Portfolio of Coursework accounts for 60% of total marks. Students assemble the portfolio over the two years of the programme and it is assessed at the end of the final year of the Leaving Certificate. The Portfolio and Written Examination are externally assessed by the Department of Education & Science.
|LINK MODULES – PORTFOLIO OF COURSEWORK|
Summary ReportOPTIONAL ITEMS (any two) Diary of Work Experience
Report on My Own Place
LCVP students receive the same certificate as other Leaving Certificate students but their Certificate includes an additional statement of the results of the Link Modules.
Grades for the Link Modules are as follows:
|80% – 100%
65% – 79%
50% – 64%
The Link Modules are recognised for points purposes by the Institutes of Technology and the Universities. The points are allocated as follows:
|Grade||Universities and Institutes of Technology Award|
How to make the best exam choices
Work out the right combination of subjects for your Leaving Certificate and you could be opening the door to a bright future. But get it wrong and you might end up disappointed. So how do you choose the right courses? Brian Mooney reports.
Choosing the right subjects is vital if your are about to start the Leaving Certificate programme. It determines your options once you complete your courses. If you are selecting your subjects you should first have completed a set of aptitude tests and possibly an “interest inventory”, linked to the subjects available in your school. I use a combination of both when helping students to make these crucial choices. In my experience, people who take the time to evaluate the results, as well as taking into account how they performed in the Junior Certificate, tend to choose their subjects correctly.
Let me first deal with the issue of what level you should take the core subjects of Irish, English and maths at. It is very rare for a student who has not attained at least a grade C at higher level in the Junior Certificate to take that subject at higher level in the Leaving Certificate. This is particularly true for higher-level Irish and maths. I have known students to move from an A or B grade in pass English in the Junior Certificate to a good higher-level grade in the Leaving Certificate.
Having said that, students who use transition year effectively, to rectify deficiencies in their performance in the Junior Certificate, could consider attempting core subjects at higher level initially in fifth year. If they find the going too hard, they can always drop back to ordinary level once they receive their in-house Christmas exam results for fifth year.
As for optional subjects, I would suggest the following:
Remember that all third-level colleges and courses have minimum subject-entry requirements. If you do not meet them it does not matter how many points you receive in the Leaving Certificate: you will not get a place on the course. A full list of the requirements appeared in this newspaper on January 6th.
It may seem very early to be raising the question of a career, but some are accessible only through particular courses, which are open only to students who have successfully taken particular subjects in their Leaving Certificates.
Unless you are certain that you want to pursue a career in a particular field and wish to concentrate on associated subjects, I would strongly advise taking a range of subjects from different areas of study.
The most important factor is whether you enjoy the subjects you have chosen. You are always going to work harder at subjects that you enjoy most.
Bear in mind that not all subjects are available in all schools – and that timetable clashes may make some combinations impossible. So select at least six subjects, listing them in order of priority, in order to get places on four courses.
If a particular subject is essential for your chosen career, say so on the form.
And there are some points to remember when you consider your Leaving Certificate subjects as a whole:
HOW MANY SUBJECTS SHOULD I TAKE AND AT WHAT LEVEL?
Your schools will probably offer you the option of studying seven subjects. Your best six grades, achieved in one sitting of the Leaving Certificate or its equivalent, will be used to calculate your point score for entry purposes to college courses.
If you are taking more than one ordinary level paper from the beginning of your two-year Leaving Cert programme, you may want the option of having six higher-level papers for points purposes.
You can only achieve this by taking an extra subject either inside or outside school. You need to be very careful before considering this option. There is no such thing as an easy higher level paper and every subject requires considerable time commitment and effort on your part. Eight subjects are a major undertaking. If the additional subject is being studied outside school, you will have to factor in the time travelling to and from such a grind. All this time and effort eats into the time available to you to work on the seven subjects you are studying in school.
SHOULD STUDENTS TAKE ON EXTRA SUBJECTS OUTSIDE SCHOOL?
If there are timetable restrictions that make it impossible for you to take a subject you particularly enjoy you could consider taking it outside school, provided you factor in an appropriate amount of study time to cover all your other subjects. Alternatively, you might consider changing schools at the beginning of fifth year, to ensure that you get your desired subject choices.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT TAKE HIGHER LEVEL IRISH?
Apart from ruling out a number of honours degree programmes which have Irish as a core entry requirement, the main consequence of dropping higher level Irish is that you are precluded from studying to be a primary school teacher in any of the Irish training colleges.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT TAKE HIGHER LEVEL MATHS?
There are many Level 8 degree programmes you can’t take if you don’t get a minimum of C3 in higher-level maths; engineering, computer science, science, information and computer technology courses and most degrees that include maths as a core subject.
If you are interested in any of these courses you could start your third level journey with a two-year higher certificate programme, which will require a minimum of a D3 in ordinary level maths. Provided you secure a minimum of 60 per cent in your various examinations, you can then progress on to ordinary degree level and from there to an honours bachelors degree. This entire process may add only one or two extra years to your studies, over and above those who secure a place on an honours bachelors degree programme, immediately after their Leaving Cert.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT TAKE A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN IRISH AND ENGLISH?
The colleges of the National University of Ireland require a pass in a third language for entry into a large number of their courses. These colleges are NUI Maynooth, Dublin, Galway and Cork, and a range of associated constituent colleges, all of which are listed on the NUI website at nui.ie
In recent years NUI colleges have dropped their third language requirement for engineering and science programmes. UCD has also dropped it for their agricultural programmes. Nursing at NUI colleges never required a third language.
A third language must be included for arts, human sciences, law, social science, commerce, medicine and health sciences and some other degrees. A third language is also a requirement for entry into the cadetship in the army or air corps.
Trinity accepts Irish as a second language requirement. UL and DCU and the Institutes of Technology do not require a continental language for entry purposes to most of their courses, apart from those which involve the study of such a language.
WHAT’S THE EASIEST SUBJECT IN THE LEAVING CERT AND WHAT’S THE HARDEST?
No Leaving Cert subject is easy, but studying something you are really interested in will make it seem easier and as a result you will probably get higher marks in it. If you dislike a subject, you will have to work harder to achieve a good grade, and your motivation would need to be strong.
WHAT COMBINATIONS OF SUBJECTS WORK?
You should attempt to select a balanced range of subjects that will leave your further and higher education options open for as long as possible. Most students study Irish (unless exempted), English and Maths. A large majority of students also study a continental language, or for those students coming originally from outside the EU, a native language approved by the State Examination Commission.
In selecting your remaining three subjects, you should consider what third level courses you might be interested in when you leave school. If you have specific courses in mind, check that your subject choices and levels match the entry requirements for these courses. [go to CAO Search, select (click) your CAO course from the list, and follow links to Qualifax or College Website to find the entry requirements]
You may also want to check what courses you may be excluded from if you take or don’t take a particular leaving cert subject. You can find this information by looking at the Third Level Entry Requirements section in each of the leaving cert subjects listed on the right.
Unless you have a specific career or course interest that is guiding your remaining subject choices, my advice is to spread your final three choices across the entire spectrum of business, scientific, humanities and practical subjects. You should also be mindful of the results of previous examinations and aptitudes test results when making these choices.
And last but not least . . .
A pass in ordinary-level maths is essential for almost all post-Leaving Certificate courses. Up to 5,000 students fall below this each year, to foundation-level maths, and a further 5,000 fail ordinary level. Whatever you do over the next two years, don’t neglect your work in this subject.