This week Donegal-based Guidance Counsellor Rory White from Careers Advice Northwest shares his advice on choosing your Leaving Cert subjects wisely.
It’s that time of year in schools when students’ attention starts to turn towards some very important decisions regarding preparing to enter Senior Cycle.
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration, so it is important that students (and parents) do their research in order to make an informed decision and keep as many options open for progressing onto third level.
Programme choice comes before Subject choice
Students finishing 3rd year need to decide which programme they intend to study next year. Depending on what your school offers, there are three options here.
- The traditional Leaving Certificate (LC)
- The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) More information here
- Transition Year (TY) More info here
If a student is opting for the TY programme, their subject choice process will be delayed until the following year.
If a student is opting for the LCA programme, their subject choice is often set by the school following consultation with the class group.
The focus of this article therefore will be on the choices facing students entering into the LC programme next year.
Three key questions to ask yourself in relation to subject choice are-
- What subjects do I like?
- What subjects am I good at?
- What subjects will I need for the college course I am interested in?
How many subjects do I have to do for my Leaving Cert?
Typically, most students will study seven subjects for their Leaving Certificate. There are three Core subjects that all students will study- English, Maths and Gaeilge and these are then added to by four others that students will choose from those subjects offered by their school.
What levels can I study these subjects at?
Unlike in the new Junior Cycle, where all subjects apart from the three core subjects are studied at Common Level, subjects in the Leaving Cert can be studied at Higher and Ordinary Level. The only exceptions here are-
- Maths and Gaeilge can also be studied at Foundation Level.
- LCVP Link Modules is studied at Common Level.
Are there any new subjects that I can study for my Leaving Cert?
There are a large number of subjects now offered for Leaving Certificate, however, not all schools offer all subjects.
Several of the subjects that you studied for your Junior Cycle will split to form new subjects. Science breaks into Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Agricultural Science. Business Studies breaks into Business, Accounting and Economics. Woodwork evolves into Construction Studies, Metalwork into Engineering and Tech Graphics into Design and Communication Graphics.
New subjects added in recent years that some schools have recently introduced are Physical Education, Computer Science and Politics & Society. There are other niche subjects and a raft of languages that can also be studied.
Careers Portal have an excellent LC Subjects section on their website that deals with each subject in detail and can help with your choices.
Are all Leaving Cert subjects worth the same amount of CAO points for college?
The same amount of points are on offer for all subjects with the one notable exception of Higher Level Maths. Students who achieve a grade of H6 and above in Maths will gain an extra 25 CAO points.
Should I take another language other than Irish and English?
This is commonly referred to as a Third language, typically Spanish, French or German (Though there are many others). A third language is a requirement for a good number of courses in the NUI colleges but not for courses in Engineering, Science and Nursing. A third language is not a requirement for entry onto most courses in the Institutes of Technology, DCU and UL apart from those which involve the study of that language. In all, approximately 350 courses of the approximately 1,800 CAO courses require a third language.
An interesting fact worth noting for students who may have been born in Northern Ireland or elsewhere outside the Republic of Ireland is that Gaeilge can suffice for the language requirement.
Away from the college scene, a third language is also a requirement for entry into a cadetship with the Army, Navy and Air Corps.
There are always exceptions to the rule so it is best to check with the course provider or your Guidance Counsellor if you have any concerns.
Should I take a science subject?
Having a lab science subject is a requirement for entry onto some courses. Most healthcare related courses require a science subject e.g. Nursing, Physiotherapy. Some medical courses require two science subjects e.g. Medicine and Dentistry. Most Engineering courses in the NUI colleges require a science subject also.
Is there any combination of subjects that work well together?
Some subjects share common elements and as a result can help to ease the burden and cut down on some study when preparing for your Leaving Certificate. Biology and Home Economics can overlap at times, Physics and Applied Maths have a strong correlation while Link Modules and Business are also good friends.
Remember the three key questions above when choosing your subjects.
Do your research on the new subjects as they might be different than you imagine them to be.
Try to keep as many options as possible open for yourself for college. Including a language and a science subject will help to achieve this.
Ask your Guidance Counsellor if you have any questions.
Do not choose a subject just because your friend is doing it!Tags: