Higher or Ordinary? Advice for choosing the right level for your junior or leaving cert exams

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Stay in Higher or Drop to Ordinary Level?

Many students struggle with the decision on whether or not to stay in the higher level class of a subject or to move down to the ordinary level class. It's a decision that could potentially have a big affect on your results so it's one to really think about. In the blog below I have listed some aspects to think about before making up your mind.

Think about your personal capabilities/level of effort

It's really important that you know your own capabilities and can judge how much effort you are able to put into studying a subject. If you're lazy and don't really care (although I don't recommend being like this in any case), then staying in higher level might not be the best option for you, as studying a subject at higher level requires more work and concentration. As well as that, even if you are motivated and ready to put in the effort, it might prove pointless if your abilities just aren't up to it. Not every subject will suit you so don't just stay in a higher level subject you find hard just because you think you need to do everything in higher level. If you need extra tips/advice on how to study effectively, read this blog post

Think about the consequences

You need to think about the effect this choice could make on your future. This goes more for those in Leaving Cert, especially Maths. If you choose to stay in higher level even though you mightn't be capable of it and then fail, you're at risk of failing your whole Leaving Cert. So, if the subject isn't essential to you for points, perhaps it's safer to move to pass.

Make sure to ask your teacher first

Your teacher will know your capabilites almost as well as you, from correcting your work, exams, etc. and from being with you in class. Therefore, you should really get their stance on the situation. If they feel you can stick it out in higher level, then it's probably the best option to stay there, and only move if you feel you're really really struggling. Your teacher will want you to succeed and not fail so they wouldn't tell you to stay if they didn't think you were capable.

Think about how it could affect your other subjects

Staying in higher level in a subject you're struggling with can have detrimental effects on your other subjects. You'll need to put more time and effort into the higher level subject and therefore you might miss out on study time for your other subjects. Really think about whether staying in higher and doing all that extra work is worth potentially dropping a grade in another subject. If you do choose to stay in higher level and take on the extra workload, do make sure to make up the time with your other subjects and add in extra time in your study plan so you don't miss out. If you haven't already made out a study plan, you can print one off here.

Talk to friends/classmates from both levels

Try to get an idea of what both classes are like by talking to people from higher and ordinary level, or if you're in 2nd or 5th year, someone in the year ahead of you. This will let you know what kind of stuff is being covered in the subject and whether it's something you could do, if it seems too easy/hard for you, etc. Your friends/classmates will give you an honest insight. That being said, try to get as much information on the classes as you can rather than only take their personal like/dislike of the subject; just because your friend thinks Leaving Cert higher level Maths is easy, doesn't mean it'll be the same for you. This is where your personal capabilities come into question again. 

Don't make a quick decision on this one, really consider the points above before you move one way or another! If you've any doubt, don't hesitate to message us. : )

Eimear and the Studyclix Team

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