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Subject Choice for Leaving Cert...

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Mathematics

Ed Zone

These courses enable learners to gain recognition for the achievement of considerable knowledge in a range of subject areas, as for example in the Leaving Certificate and one-year Post Leaving Certificate courses.

Courses may be academic or practical in focus, and awards that are recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications may lead to progression opportunities higher up in the framework.

Employment Opportunities
The majority of people with certificates at this level are well prepared for occupations that involve using their knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include office secretary, customer service representatives, special needs assistant, retail salespersons and childcare workers.

Level on the National Framework of Qualifications
2 Years
Duration of course
Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2018:
Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 16395 students who sat the Higher Level Mathematics exam in 2018.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 32334 students who sat the Ordinary Level Mathematics exam in 2018.

In brief... header image

Maths is one of the core subjects. It is compulsory in every school. Project Maths, the current Leaving Cert curriculum, provides students with the opportunity to gain an understanding of and familiarity with several branches of mathematics, as well as developing their overall appreciation of the subject. The branches, or ‘strands’, of the course have been chosen because they have applications in everyday life, are useful in other disciplines, and provide a foundation for further education. As a result, maths is very accessible to students at all levels.

Video: A fresh approach to Maths


Why Study this?header image

Why Study Maths

As a wide-ranging subject with many fields and applications, maths gets used everywhere, and everyone can find some use for it. For students, it opens doors to careers. For citizens, it enables informed decisions. For nations, it provides knowledge to compete in a technological community. No longer just the language of science, maths contributes in direct and fundamental ways to business, finance, health and defence.

Whether it’s managing your monthly budget or a part of your job, mathematics has a place in everyone’s life.

Recommendations/Tips

Mathematics is available for study at three levels, Foundation, Ordinary, and Higher. Each level covers everything in the levels below it. Students are encouraged to study at the level appropriate to their needs and aspirations. Securing a minimum of a pass mark on an Ordinary level paper is necessary for entry into the majority of third level college courses.

There are many careers which require or benefit greatly from having a Higher level of mathematics, and it’s a good idea to research these before coming to a decision.

 


Videos & Interviews header image

Working with Maths - Maths

Project Maths - Project Maths


Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Fish Farm Manager - Hugh Heraghty
Hugh Heraghty , Bord Iascaigh MharaMaths - from calculating feed guides to ordering each load of food, six weeks in advance.  
  go to interview...
 
Opera Singer - Sharon Carty
Sharon Carty, Languages ConnectMy advice if you're uncertain about choosing subjects is to choose things you're interested in, rather than what you think will be good for your career. A broad education will serve you really well not only in terms of college options, but also can enrich your life outside of school and work. I have a huge interest in astronomy and loved studying physics in school, and although I'd never have had the talent in Maths to study it at 3rd level or have a career in it, it meant I can really enjoy reading popular science books and keep up with what's going on in space exploration, as a hobby. For Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Music, Biology, German and Classical Studies. Looking back, the subjects I did (specifically English, Music, Classics and German) meant that I was well-equipped with a lot of background knowledge that was helpful in my career as a singer, in terms of literature, language and musical training. Without having studied Music at 2nd level, with the wonderful teacher I had, I am 100% certain I wouldn't be a singer today. 
  go to interview...
 
Occupational Therapist - Tomas Flanagan
Tomas Flanagan, St. Michael's House

In school we had to choose our Leaving Cert subjects just before the Junior Cert. At this stage I had no idea what I wanted to do as a profession but I knew I wanted to go to College.

In order to keep my options open I chose a mix of subjects to include one language, one science subject and one business subject. In addition to the obligatory English, Irish & Maths I therefore studied French, Biology, Geography & Accounting. I chose these particular subjects as I had an interest in them at Junior Cert level.

I suppose Biology was the most relevant of my subjects when I started college as there was some overlap with Anatomy and Physiology. We also studied research and statistics in college which were Maths related.

 
  go to interview...
 
Planetary Scientist - Caitriona Jackman
Caitriona Jackman, Smart Futures

For Leaving Certificate I did the usual English, Irish, Maths, then Physics which I loved, Chemistry which I wasn’t great at (kept breaking stuff in the practicals), French, Geography and Music as an extra. I really enjoyed English actually, and even though a lot of my job involves computer programming and some hard maths and physics, I still rely heavily on my writing skills.

As important as it is to have technical ability in my job, it is still crucial to be able to communicate any results I find. One of the main tasks for me is to write papers for scientific journals, and occasionally to write articles for a more general audience.

My French is also useful because I collaborate with several people from a lab in Paris and they like if I make an effort to speak a bit of French, even though my accent is very embarrassing!

 
  go to interview...
 
Activities Manager - Martin Dunn
Martin Dunn, Careers Portal

I had always wanted to be in a uniformed service of some sort, first preference as a fireman, then the armed services or the police but I have an eye condition that rules me out of these jobs.

So during school I had no idea what I wanted to do and I was not the most academic of people so I chose the subjects that I was better at and would stand me the best chance of good grades.

I did not really choose to follow this career path until I was 25.  I had been to university once to do a Coaching Science degree as I was heavily involved in swimming and water polo coaching but this just did not suit me and I dropped out in my first year. So going back a second time as a mature student was a big decision and because I was a mature student they look at you a little differently to entry requirement and take into consideration life experience.

So at the time it was having maths and english plus experience working in sports coaching groups that I think were the main factors. Even the fact that the course had a lot of geography and I had dropped this subject when I was 14 or so, did not go against me and the first year of the course is there to get yourself acquainted with the subject again. 

So in hindsight I was lucky enough that my subject choices in school did not affect my current career.

 
  go to interview...
 
Wind Engineer - Des Lalor
Des Lalor, Sustainable Energy AuthorityMaths, English, Irish, Physics, Tech Drawing, Geography, French  
  go to interview...
 
Chef - David Kehoe
David Kehoe, Careers PortalMaths, English, French, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Home Economics. All of them influenced my career as I need all of them eg. without maths I couldn't deal with the financial part of the job. 
  go to interview...
 
Parliamentary Assistant - Kevin Keary
Kevin Keary, EU CareersI chose a good variety of subjects at school- I did History, Biology, Geography, German and of course English, Irish and Maths.  
  go to interview...
 
Lieutenant - Pilot - Air Corp - Oisin McGrath
Oisin McGrath, Defence Forces

The subjects that I took for my Leaving Certificate are..English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Biology, Geography and French.

NB: It must be noted that the Air Corps requires certain subjects and is detailed in the Cadetship Booklet!!!

 
  go to interview...
 
Engineer - Process - Kerrie Horan
Kerrie Horan, Intel

Subjects I look were Chemistry, Technical Drawing, Business Studies and German for my Leaving Cert.  All of which I have used since and believe it or not business aspects including accounting are an integral part of engineering

I would say that Physics and Applied Maths would have come in very useful as it was tough entering an Engineering Degree without having either of these.

 
  go to interview...
 
 

Course Overview header image

The number of candidates sitting Higher Level Maths has grown steadily since 25 bonus CAO points were introduced in 2012, awarded to students who successfully pass the course. In 2012, 22% of students who presented for Maths took the Higher level paper. This has grown steadily to over 30% in recent years.

Mathematics is available for study at three levels: Foundation; Ordinary; Higher. Each level covers everything in the levels below it.

Aiming for Higher Level:

Mathematics at Higher level is designed to suit the needs of all students, whether they are continuing their study of mathematics to third level, studying it as a compliment to another subject (such as Business or Physics), or just looking for points.

The Higher level course familiarises students with the ideas of abstraction and rigorous proof, giving learners a feel for the great mathematical concepts that span many centuries and cultures, as well as covering practical everyday topics which students are meeting in their lives outside school.

Higher level maths is considered the most time consuming subject of all and often requires more hours of study than other subjects to get a good result. The course is demanding, but very rewarding, both in terms of intellectual achievement and potential career paths opened. However, once you master the skills and concepts, the amount of memory work is minimal. Worldwide, and particularly in Ireland, there is huge demand for students who are technically capable, and Higher level mathematics trains students in the skills needed to succeed.

Aiming for Ordinary Level:

At Ordinary level, students are offered mathematics that is meaningful, relatively accessible, and chosen with the understanding that many of them may go on to use and apply mathematics in their future careers, and all of them will meet the subject to a greater or lesser degree in their daily lives.

The course starts with practical and familiar problems, and gradually introduces more abstract ideas, leading towards the use of academic mathematics in the context of further study.

Most Leaving Cert students sit the Ordinary level maths exam, often dropping down from Higher level having become more aware of their level of ability and perhaps due to increased pressure in sixth year. 

Tip: The most important thing is to consider is how much time you are spending on Higher maths. If you are spending too much time and but are capable of a H6 grade, you have the benefit of gaining 25 aditional bonus points. On the other hand, if you are unlikely to achieve this grade, maybe the time could be better spent on other subjects you are stronger in. 

Aiming for Foundation Level:

At Foundation level, maths is about developing a body of knowledge and skills that make sense, and can be used in many different ways as good method of solving problems and finding answers. It is intended to equip learners with the knowledge and skills required in everyday life. It is also intended to lay the groundwork for learners who may proceed to further studies in areas in which specialist mathematics is not required.

The course focuses primarily on fundamental skills and providing a basic but solid understanding of mathematical concepts which will remain relevant and useful in the future. As well as numerical problems, students can also expect to be presented with visual and spatial questions, as well as some theory.

Tip: It is useful to be aware of the range of college courses that accept /do not accept Foundation Level Maths, and the impact for both CAO Points and College entry. From 2017, CAO points will be allocated by certain colleges and institutions only - universities will not award points for Foundation Maths, but most will accept it as meeting the entry requirement. A Grade F1 will be awarded 20 Points and Grade F2 is worth 12 Points. Other restrictions may apply - for example, the Defence Forces do not accept Foundation Maths for Cadetships in the Army, Air Corps or Navy.


Course Contentheader image

Project Maths divides the course into five 'strands' of maths which are studied at all levels, and in greater depth at Higher level:

  • Statistics and Probability aims to provide an understanding of what probability is and why concepts such as variation and uncertainty are important. Students will also learn how to analyse statistics such as those in newspapers, business reports, and scientific data, so that they can draw meaningful and relevant conclusions. 
  • Geometry and Trigonometry deal with shapes such as circles and triangles, both on the coordinate plane and otherwise. The skills developed here are useful in areas such as architecture, landscape design, and agriculture, as well as visual design and spatial reasoning.
  • Number Learners continue to make meaning of the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole and rational numbers and extend this sense-making to complex numbers.
  • Algebra builds on the relations-based approach of junior cycle, which has five main objectives:

- to make use of letter symbols for numeric quantities

- to emphasise relationship based algebra

- to connect graphical and symbolic representations of algebraic concepts

- to use real life problems as vehicles to motivate the use of algebra and algebraic thinking

- to use appropriate graphing technologies (graphing calculators, computer software) throughout the strand activities.


Exam Structure header image

At Ordinary level and Higher level there are two assessment components

  • Mathematics Paper 1
  • Mathematics Paper 2

Each paper will contain two sections – A and B.

  • Section A will address core mathematics topics, with a focus on concepts and skills.
  • Section B will include questions that are context based applications of mathematics.

At Foundation level, there is one assessment component, a written paper. Learners will be assessed by means of problems set in meaningful contexts.


Career Possibilities header image

Higher level: From a careers perspective, students considering opportunities in any area of science, medicine, engineering, business, or finance should study Higher level maths if at all possible, as large portions of the Higher level course will be reviewed or assumed at third level.

There are many other careers and courses which benefit from a knowledge of Higher level maths including: accountancy, astronomy, clerical work, marketing, computers and banking.



Career Guidance