On entering First Year of Junior Cycle most students are offered seven 'core' subjects and 2-3 additional subjects from options available at the school. Teachers normally recommend subjects for students based on their interests and previous performance. First Year often provides some flexibility for students to sample different subjects, with the final choice of subjects being settled on for Second Year.
Subjects are offered at Higher and Ordinary level, or Foundation level in the case of Irish, English and Maths.
Choosing whether to take a subject at Higher or Ordinary level in the Junior Cert can matter in terms of career. This is because entry into some college courses after school requires some subject grades at Higher level, which means the subject must be taken at Higher level for the Leaving Cert. It is unusual for a subject to be taken at Higher level for the Leaving Cert if it is not also taken at Higher level for the Junior Cert.
The subjects you study can be placed together into six 'Subject Groups' based on what is studied. For most students, choosing subjects from each group is a good idea, as you will get a good rounded education as a result. However, if you particularly dislike a subject at this stage, you should look to find one that would be of greater interest to you.
The Subject Groupings
It is important that you choose subjects that you have an interest in, and not because you like or dislike the subject teacher, or because your best friend chooses it.
You also need to know what you will be studying, and what you might expect to learn after your years of work and effort. Most subjects build up your general knowledge and provide valuable learning for all careers. Some subjects are more specific and prepare you for similar subjects in your Leaving Cert.
As you continue your studies from Junior Cycle onwards, you will learn how the subject groups, and choice of subjects within them, continue to grow and expand. By the time you leave school you will be able to choose what to study from a selection of hundreds of courses.