How to Choose your Leaving Cert Subjects - Everything you need to know.

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Whether you do it in 3rd, 4th or even 5th Year, choosing the subjects to do for your Leaving Cert exams is a step we must all take. It’s pretty unfair that we’re expected to have our lives planned out ahead of us and know exactly what we want to do by the age of 16. This can make it stressful for a lot of people when picking out the right subjects.

So, how do you know what to pick? Here’s some advice I would give to those about to choose their subjects:

Take Your Time

This is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to clear your head and really think this through. Your school will hopefully (and should) give you a couple of days to think about your choice as your future could depend on it.

Be Independent with Your Choices

There’s absolutely no point in doing Construction Studies just because your friend is doing it so you’ll have company. If you’re useless at handiwork and have no interest, you’ll regret it in the long-term. It just makes no sense so please be independent in your choice.

Don’t Let a Bad Teacher Put You Off

Yes, a good teacher would help a lot when you’re studying whatever subject, but a teacher is only there to help you, your own ability is the main thing. A good example for this point is my sister. She had the same terrible teacher for her 2 Senior Cycle years. But, like I said, it’s your own ability that counts. She took it upon herself to learn and study the course without the help of her teacher and she still managed to get a H2. So, if you like and enjoy the subject, I say go for it, don’t let a bad teacher ruin your interest in a subject. Plus, Studyclix will always be here to help you out if you need it. 

Consider Your Future Career and College Course

I know it’s still early days for you, and college is another 2 years away, but your choice here could affect your life in the future. Think about what you’d like to do in college. For example, if you think you’d like to be a nutritionist, then it’s important you take on a Science subject. Or, if you think you’d like to study Commerce or Marketing, then you should probably consider doing a Business subject. You don’t want to be filling out your CAO in 6th year and realising that you can’t do your dream course because you didn’t choose a certain subject in 5th year.Don't forget that higher Irish is a requirement for primary school teaching.

Consider What You’re Good At

I think that this is majorly important. If you are talented and strong at a certain subject, to me, it’s obvious that you should do it, because you can be almost certain that you’ll do well in it, getting you those crucial marks in your Leaving Cert. The only time I would suggest not doing a subject that you’re really good at is if you absolutely hate it and know that it will be of no benefit to you. In this case, there isn’t really much point in you being unhappy in a class for 2 years.

Consider What You’re Actually Interested In

Do you love science, living things and learning how they work? Well then Biology is an obvious choice. Have you an interest in manual work and learning how buildings are made? Do Construction. There’s no point doing a subject that you’ll end up falling asleep in because you couldn’t be less bothered about it. If you’re misfortunate enough not to have a certain subject that you would love available to you at your school, don’t lose hope! There are always independent teachers in every area that could be willing to teach you after school.

Talk to Past Pupils

Find out as much as you can about each subject before you choose it. You might learn that it’s not all you thought it was, and past pupils can often offer an insight on what the subject is really like. 

Choose For Yourself Only

Parents sometimes try to get involved in the choosing process, pushing their children to choose the subjects that would get them the college course that the parents want for their child, rather than what the child wants. You’re at an age where you have to start being independent, and, as I’ve said, this decision could affect your college choice and future life, so make sure that it’s you and you only that makes the final decision on your subject choices.

Chose the Wrong Subject?

Don't panic. Usually, unless your school is very strict on this policy, you can change what subjects you choose to do if discover that you really made the wrong decision. So long as you do it early on, and so long as it doesn’t affect other students or classes, your school/principal should allow it, so don’t be afraid to ask for a class swap if you hate the subject you chose. Everyone makes mistakes.

Staying in Honours or Dropping to Pass?

Firstly, ask your teacher. They should know best about your capability in the subject. However, in my opinion, if the thought of dropping to pass is on your mind, especially early on in the Senior Cycle, you should probably drop down, because it’s what you’ll most likely end up doing. It could prove helpful to drop down earlier if you know you probably won’t stick it out anyway, that way, you won’t waste time putting in the extra work for a standard you won’t need. This especially goes for Maths, honours Maths is very time consuming so if you know you won’t end up sticking with it, don’t waste the time and energy. It’s essential that you make sure that dropping down a level won’t affect your choice of college course in the future though. Some courses require Honours Maths, Honours English, etc. Thinking ahead is really important for this decision.

Thinking of Taking on a New Subject?

If you think that you would really enjoy the subject and you’ve done sufficient research into the subject and its contents, I say go for it! Lots of people in my class took up a new subject for the senior cycle and hardly anyone struggled with the fact that they had a brand new subject to learn. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about your own ability and capability, so if you can put in a little bit of extra effort, it should work out just fine for you.

Unsure of What Each Subject Consists Of?

Like I’ve already said, past pupils can be really helpful because they have experience. Maybe an older sibling could give you advice or an older friend. You can also check out our discussion forum here on Studyclix and ask our other users what a subject is like. Alternatively, you can look at the subjects on our site and flick through some papers to see if you think a subject would suit you. 


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