Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Caitriona Jackman from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Caitriona Jackman

Planetary Scientist

Smart Futures

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  Caitriona Jackman
If you are considering full-time scientific research, try to get a work placement in a university department so you can see first hand what it’s like. It’s a relatively relaxed, flexible environment, but there is a certain degree of self-motivation needed. 

So I would say you need to be able to push  yourself and be proactive in terms of setting up collaborations with other scientists etc.

Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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Leaving Cert Results - What Happens Next?
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Repeating the Leaving Cert

Every year, about 2,000 students repeat the Leaving Certificate. Some return as an alternative to opting for the wrong third-level course; others because they feel they didn't do themselves justice in the June exams, e.g. students who want to do medicine or nursing and didn’t quite get the points. Some students simply use repeating as a way to buy time until they figure out what it is they want to do.

The good news is that repeat classes tend to be small, which allows for individual attention and there is generally a strong focus on study skills.

To repeat or not to repeat ...

When considering whether or not to repeat, it is helpful for students to reflect and ask themselves some questions such as:
  • What prevented me from gaining the result I wanted?
  • Were these circumstances within my control?
  • Will it be different this year or am I likely to fall into the same patterns?
It is possible to do significantly better in the Leaving Cert second time round, but unfortunately it is also possible to slide into old habits and achieve results that are only slightly better than the first time around. Having been through the experience of studying and sitting the examinations previously, you will have gained a familiarity that will benefit you immensely when you repeat. Improving your study skills and coping skills, along with a positive attitude will offer you the opportunity to maximise your potential second time round.

The only way is up!

In general, repeating is a win-win situation. If you do your Leaving Cert this year and get 400 points, and the next year you repeat and only get 380, the Department of Education will accept the highest points achieved in one sitting. So for this reason, you are re not going to lose. You won’t go down in points, but you can go up!


Students thinking of repeating should consider their subjects, some of which will have different course work each year. For example, in English, the skills students are required to develop remain fixed but the texts may change. Other subjects that may be affected by changes in the prescribed exam material from year to year include music and history.

It is not necessary to re-sit all of your exams, unless of course you want to. You can drop subjects you did the first time round if you have fulfilled the minimum entry requirements for the courses you are applying for. Remember, you can only count the points from a single sitting of the Leaving Cert - points from both sittings cannot be added together. So while you can drop maths, English, Irish – if you passed them the first time – you will need to take exams in at least six subjects to get your full tally of points. So if you drop maths, you may need to take something else to replace it.  

It is possible to take up an entirely new subject for the first time when repeating and this can be a popular option. Although the workload of Leaving Cert courses are set out as two year programmes, students will sometimes find that subject content can overlap. For example if your strengths lie in Biology you can see how this coincides with chapters in the Home-Economics syllabus therefore lessening your workload. 

Students also have the option of resitting just one of their subjects if they failed to meet the entry requirements for a specific college course. For example not, obtaining the required Maths results for an Engineering course or not achieving the required amount of honours to do a particular degree course. 

Dates and information about second-chance or alternative Maths exams hosted by individual colleges can be found here

Where to Repeat

Students who decide that repeating is the best option for them need to consider where to repeat. Returning to your old school may be possible, but this is normally at the discretion of the school principal (This is because the school does not get a capitation grant for students who are repeating). It has the benefit of being a familiar environment, close to home with teachers who know and understand you as a students. However, schools generally do not have a dedicated repeat class, so returning students will be surrounded by others taking Leaving Cert for the first time, which can create its own challenges.

For those who want to leave their old school behind, Education and Training Boards offer repeat Leaving Certificate courses in a number of colleges throughout the country. Alternatively, several private colleges and grind schools offer repeat Leaving Certificate courses.

Enrolment and advice on subject choices normally takes place from the beginning of August to mid September each year, depending on the college.

A list of schools/colleges that offer Repeat Leaving Certificate is available here.

The cost of doing a repeat Leaving Certificate varies. ETB colleges are the less expensive option, however, students are advised to check with their local college to see what exact costs are involved. If you choose to repeat with a private college the cost is considerably higher.


Do I Need to Repeat all Subjects?


What are my options if I failed Leaving Cert Maths?