Selecting the right subjects for senior cycle, and the level at which to take them, is a critical task faced by 60,000 second-level students every year. Making the wrong choice at this stage can have unintended consequences in two years’ time - certain paths into college may be blocked by not having the particular subjects required for entry to a chosen course.
Video: Studying STEM subjects in school and college and their importance for Irish industry. There are good reasons why students tend to have a science subject and a third language in their arsenal and, as you will find out if you read on, there are no “soft” options on the Leaving Cert exam.
When you are considering which subjects to take for the Leaving Cert, bear in mind that this decision will have long-term consequences on what careers are open to you. A decision to drop all science subjects or continental languages will have major implications on the career choices open, or closed to you later on. The same does not apply to business subjects, as most business courses teach all subjects with the presumption that students know nothing. If a student is making subject choices and has not yet decided what career they wish to follow after school, it is advisable to keep all their options open by taking a science and continental language subject from among their four optional subjects.
Many colleges require students to hold pass grades in languages for matriculation. These include all NUI colleges, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick (UL). These institutions require entrants to hold a pass in English, Irish and a third European language, or English and another language. Dublin City University requires entrants to hold a pass in maths and English or Irish. Students may qualify for an exemption from these requirements if they have a learning difficulty or if they were born outside of the state.
Choose Subjects you Enjoy
Always pick the subjects you enjoy and are good at. It is much more difficult to do well in a subject you are less interested in. Never choose a subject because your friends are choosing it or because you like the teacher. Picking a subject you enjoy and are naturally good at will decrease the pressure and allow you to excel and reach your full potential.
The Most Important Piece of Advice
A pass in ordinary level maths is essential for entry to the majority of courses. The 5,000 students who fail to secure a grade D in ordinary level are in a particularly difficult situation. A further 5,000 students each year now choose foundation level maths, and there is a growing number of colleges and courses that offer places to students who secure a minimum of a grade A or B in maths at this level. Whatever you do over the next two years, don’t neglect your studies in this subject.