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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...
Teacher - Special Needs - Padraig Parle
Padraig Parle, Department of Education and SkillsHistory, Biology, French, Art, Maths, Irish and English.  Taking Art for my Leaving Cert. enabled me to go to Art College, but it was the Honours Irish which was essential to get into Primary Teaching 
  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...
 
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...
 
Dancer - Megan McEvoy
Megan McEvoy, Languages ConnectAside from English, Irish and maths I did music, French, art and chemistry. I did business studies until the Junior Cert but dropped it then. Although I didn't enjoy business studies I really wish I had kept it on as had I known that I'd be self-employed in the future it would have helped me greatly in terms of tax, loans, self-marketing and starting a business.

Essentially I am now running a small business by being self-employed. While I didn't use French and ended up living in Spain for 4 years I do feel having had a second language in school made picking up Spanish easier for me and I was really willing to learn it. Music of course has helped greatly in my career as there is nothing worse than a dancer who has no sense of musicality. Music has always played a big part in my life and many teachers have commented on my strong sense of musicality through dance. 
  go to interview...
 
Recruitment Manager - Frank Morrison
Frank Morrison, Health Service Executive

Irish, English, Maths, Accountancy, Biology, Physics, French, Social & Scientific.

As already stated, my initial goal was accountancy following the Leaving Cert. The accountancy covered by the Leaving Cert was very beneficial during my first year at college. However I don't believe I had the personality to become an accountant.

Moving to my later choice of Nursing, I believe that biology was essential as it is a major part of nursing studies from the start. I also believe that experience at work itself will further one's career and may in fact lead to a change further down the career pathway.

 
  go to interview...
 
Textile Design/Handweaver - Liz Christy
Liz Christy, Design & Crafts Council of IrelandThe subjects I took at shool all influenced me in different ways. English is very necessary in how I represent myself, Maths is oh so important in so many ways from yarn calculations to understanding numeric’s in business.

Art was very influential in my career path. I was introduced to Impressionism and Monet who is a major inspiration in my current work and marketing mix. 

I wish I was better at Irish and I would use it in my business marketing. History influenced how I relate to current affairs, Home Economics is vital in developing my needlecraft skills which is an important aspect of my business. 

Biology, well I do enjoy gardening as a hobby and my husband is a student psychiatric nurse so a knowledge of biology has come in useful over the years. 
  go to interview...
 
Civil Engineer - Maria O'Neill
Maria O'Neill, Smart Futures

In hindsight, I am happy to say I wouldn't have done anything differently to date! In my Junior Cert I did 9 subjects ; Maths, Irish, English, History, Geography, Science, Business Studies, French and Tech Graphics. I liked Languages and history the least. I won't lie, Maths, Geography, and Tech Graphics were the ones I enjoyed the most.

When I was choosing for my leaving Cert I still hadn't decided what I would do when I was finished. I was thinking of Engineering, Teaching or Physiotherapy. I wanted to leave my options open. To do physio you need a language (to get in to UCD) and 2 science subjects. I decided to do Maths, Irish, English, French, Geography, Physics and Chemistry for my leaving. That left all the options open.

I was good at Business Studies, but after looking at courses in college, I discovered you don't usually need a business subject to get into a business course. This is not the case for Science based courses. In 6th year I took up Applied Maths. Since I was doing Physics and Maths I had a good background for the subject. Twenty classes and just homework, and I got an honour. If anyone was to ask me if they should do it, if you like maths, its a great subject!

 
  go to interview...
 
Primary School Teacher - Deirdre Sayers
Deirdre Sayers, Department of Education and SkillsI took seven subjects for my Leaving Cert. These were primarily arts subjects with the exception of Biology and Maths.

These subjects were ideal for a B.Ed. Degree course. They would have restricted my entry into the sciences, however. In hindsight I would not have done anything differently for the career path I choose. However, I might have had a wider career path if I had studied a wider base of subjects. 
  go to interview...
 
Computer Programmer - Jason Ruane
Jason Ruane, Intel

In secondary school I took Physics and Chemistry since I loved science. I also took Business Organisation but that was for the life skills it teaches rather than an intrinsic desire. I would gladly have enjoyed doing all the science subjects, to the complete detriment of all others but in hind-sight I am glad I took a subject such as Biz. Org. as it gave a rounding aspect to my secondary schooling.

I would have liked to have done Technical Drawing possibly but had to make a choice. I was only mediocre in German and Irish but again am glad I did them for at least secondary school as it challenged me and I did not get too narrowly focused on the technical subjects (there was plenty of time for that in third-level). In hindsight I realise that Maths was more important than I imagined and the two science subjects stood me in good stead. The choices I made for the subject selection was made by my passion for the sciences. Luckily I was afforded this leeway as the points for my intended course were not particularly high at the time.

 
  go to interview...
 
Science Entrepreneur - Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly, BioPharmachem Ireland

I did the following subjects for my Leaving Cert: Irish, English, Maths, French, Physics, Chemistry, Accounting and Applied Maths.

When choosing my subjects in 5th year in School I deliberately ensured that I did at least one business and one science subject because this gave me more flexibility in my choice of courses. I would recommend this strategy - particularly for those who aren't sure what they wish to study in college.

 
  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