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Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.

Subject Choice for Leaving Cert...

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English

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 38749 students who sat the Higher Level English exam in 2018.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 15389 students who sat the Ordinary Level English exam in 2018.

In brief... header image

At Leaving Cert level, the English course aims to develop:

  • The ability to critically analyse information, as preparation for the responsibilities and challenges of adult life;
  • A respect and appreciation for language used accurately and appropriately, and a competence in a wide range of oral and written language skills;
  • An awareness of the value of literature for widening horizons, for enhancing their sense of cultural identity, and for personal enjoyment.

Why Study this?header image

Why Study English

  • Universities generally require a student to pass English
  • Leaving Certificate English invites students into rich experiences with language so that they become fluent and thoughtful users of it and more aware of its significance in their lives.
  • The study of English develops a range of literacy and oral skills in a variety of areas - personal, social, and cultural.
  • Students develop a wide range of skills and concepts which will allow them to interpret and enjoy a range of material so that they become independent learners who can operate independently in the world beyond school.
  • Students interested in furthering their English studies beyond second-level have a wide variety course choices available.

What kind of student would English suit?

  • Anyone who has ambitions for a career in creative writing, politics, or entertainment.
  • English also forms a key part of journalism courses and good presentation skills will be required for courses in history, politics, law and almost all other courses.
  • Students seeking to develop and improve their communication skills.

Recommendations/Tips:

It is recommended that a student has achieved at least a grade (C) at Junior Certificate higher level, to continue into higher-level Leaving Certificate English. Other cautionary notes that parents should be aware of include:

  • The study of English at higher level places significant demands on the Leaving Certificate student.
  • The syllabus is very broad in its range of prescribed materials can be quite time consuming.
  • The higher-level (course) exam rewards good writing skills and an independent learner.
  • The extended composition features largely on both papers at higher level and students are expected to write between 750-1000 words in these essays, during the time available.
  • There is the assumption at higher level that students will read widely and independently over the two years.
  • An interest in social, political and current affairs is vital.
  • Highly developed writing skills and critical analysis skills are prerequisite at Higher level.
  • Conversely, at ordinary level, textual material is printed on the exam paper for students e.g. in the poetry sections, poems are printed for the students. Less extended pieces of writing are also expected.
  • Texts at ordinary level are less challenging, particularly bearing in mind that students at O.L. do not have to study a Shakespearean play.
  • Texts prescribed at O.L. are very student friendly and aimed at encouraging the more reluctant reader.
  • There is a vast difference in the study of English at higher level for Junior Certificate and the Study of English at higher level for the Leaving Certificate.


Videos & Interviews header image


Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Care Assistant  - Deirdre Lavelle
Deirdre Lavelle, St. Michael's HouseIn school I studied English, Irish, Maths, History, and French. As I came to this line of work late in life experience and courses I have done since leaving school have been helpful to me.

I did the foundation in counseling skills course in Maynooth College, I feel this has helped me in my work as it developed my listening skills.

Also here I had my first introduction to non verbal communication and reading body language etc., which is very useful in my current job as I work with people who communicate largely by non verbal means.

If I could go back in time I would have worked harder in school and achieved a better leaving certificate, as I spent many years doing a job I was not suited to. 
  go to interview...
 
Transport Infrastructure Ireland - Ciaran MacSamhrain
Ciaran MacSamhrain, Languages ConnectIrish, English, French, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Latin (I failed Latin(!) but only concentrated on 6 subjects because, at least at that time, all colleges only counted up to 6 subjects when calculating entry points). I stayed in Honours Maths and choose Physics in order to not rule out opting for engineering. I would not have done anything differently in hindsight.  
  go to interview...
 
Insurance Administrator - Kevin Moran
Kevin Moran, InsuranceAs well as the mandatory Irish, English and Mathematics my leaving certificate subjects included French, Biology, Geography and Accounting.

This is a broad range of subjects covering everything from business to languages to science, this provided a broad base for me as it left a number of doors open for various university courses. 
  go to interview...
 
QA Manager - Michael Bohane
Michael Bohane, BioPharmachem IrelandMy Leaving Cert subjects were Irish, English, Maths, French, Chemistry, Biology and Business Organisation.  My main interest was science so I chose two science subjects and one business related subject to keep things interesting.

My subjects were appropriate for my University course except I was required to take Physics in the first year. This was quite challenging not having taken Physics to Leaving Cert but not impossible. I don't think I would do anything differently if I had to repeat the process. 
  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...
 
Resource Teacher - Paul Galvan
Paul Galvan, Department of Education and SkillsFor my Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, French, Geography and History. My favourite subjects were Geography, Physics, French and English. I knew that I would like to study a combination of these subjects in further education. I think as regards a career path it’s a good idea to study subjects you like and are good at. 
  go to interview...
 
Fisherman - Alan O'Neill
Alan O'Neill, Bord Iascaigh MharaFor my Leaving Cert, I took English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Engineering, Construction and Geography. Engineering proved useful as it introduced me to the different mechanisms needed to run basic engines.

This basic information helped me in my Skippers tickets. Geography was also useful for correct geographical terms and maths was essential for the Skippers ticket as it is very mathematically orientated - I would advise people to do Honours Maths, if possible. 
  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...
 
Ambulance / Paramedic - Keith Hayes
Keith Hayes, Health Service ExecutiveIn school there was very poor attention given to, or ‘guidance’ towards suitable careers. I was lucky I knew what I wanted to do. This, looking back was disappointing because I had no drive to go to third level college. I knew all I needed to be a Paramedic was the Leaving Cert.

In the Leaving Cert I took English, Irish, Maths, French, Biology, Chemistry and History pretty much the standard, they didn’t really have much influence on my career choice. That said, Biology and Chemistry are a great foundation for studying medicine as a Paramedic. 
  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...
 
 

Course Overview header image

English is a core subject and is compulsory in all schools. 

The exams at both higher and ordinary level require students to sit two papers. Junior Certificate results are often a good indication of what level a student should choose for Senior Cycle English. A large number of students take English at higher level but you should not underestimate the amount of work required to obtain a high grade.


Course Contentheader image

Core Elements

Language
Students are required to study the following five designated areas of language in a wide variety of contexts, functions and styles.

1. The Language of Information.
2. The Language of Argument.
3. The Language of Persuasion.
4. The Language of Narration.
5. The Aesthetic use of Language.

Literature

  • Students are required to study one literary text from a list of prescribed texts.
  • Students are required to study three other texts in the Comparative manner, according to the comparative modes prescribed for that year.
  • Students are required to study at least six poets from the eight poets prescribed at higher level.  At ordinary level, 36 poems are prescribed.

Compulsory elements:  At higher level, a Shakespearean Play must be one of the texts chosen for study on its own or as an element of the Comparative study.

Optional Elements:  At ordinary level, the study of a Shakespearean play is optional.


Exam Structure header image

Exam Structure

Paper I            Higher and Ordinary Level - 170 mins. - 200 marks.

Section I Three texts - one which is visual - are presented to students on a general theme.  Two sets of questions, an A and a B follow each text.  Candidates must answer a question A on one text and a question B on a different text.    (100 marks)
Section II (Composing)  Candidates must write an extended composition in a specific genre of language from a list of seven choices.    (100 marks)

Paper II            Higher and Ordinary Level - 200 mins. - 200 marks.  

Section I    The Single Text    (60 marks)
Section II   The Comparative study  (70 marks)
Section III  Poetry     (70 marks)

Higher Level 
(i)  Unseen poem   (20 marks)
(ii)  Prescribed poetry  (50 marks)

Ordinary Level
(i)  Unseen poem   (20 marks)
(ii)  Four poems will be printed on the exam paper and students must answer questions on one of the four.   (50 marks)


Exam Tips

Paper 1:

Composing: (100 marks) Long before the examination, identify the type of composition (short story, personal essay, discussion or descriptive essay) that is likely to gain you the highest grades and practise this. Bear in mind that the personal essay can be written as a narrative or a discussion, so it provides an alternative back up for both the short story and the discussion essay.

Short story: A short story is an exploration of a personality caught in a defining situation, indicating that the life of a character must be shown, through appearance, behaviour, and voice, both internal and external. The phrase "defining situation" means a situation that exposes the essence of that personality. It is useful to reduce the description of your central character to a single word so you know how the character looks, acts and speaks. Read as many short stories as possible to understand how the very best material is written.

Personal essay: The best preparation for the personal essay is to write short, colourful paragraphs that express your own personality. If approaching the personal essay as a narrative - the description of you caught in a defining situation, read the tips on the short story above. Be mindful that correctors are directed to look for reflective elements that capture your thoughts, feelings and judgments and interpretations on your experiences not just descriptions of things that happened to you.

Discussion essay: The key to a good discussion essay is to reduce the topic you are given to the point you wish to make. Using techniques such as exaggeration for effect, colourful illustrations and rhetorical questions influence a good discussion. It is important to read outside the course, for example the newspapers.

Descriptive essay: The task is to evoke a mood or atmosphere, the technique of settling on a single scene and bringing it alive with expressive and revealing details.

Paper 2:

The Single text: (60 marks) Be guided by the question, not by any standard essays that you may have prepared or learned which cannot offer a relevant discussion of an unseen play or novel. Use your opening paragraph to explore the implications of the given quote, your concluding paragraph to assess its merits, whether you wholeheartedly agree or disagree with it or indeed if you have mixed feelings about it.

Comparative study: (70 marks) In answers to questions in this section, students may compare and contrast (address similarities and/or differences) in both the content and style of their chosen texts. The most important thing to remember is to understand clearly your modes of comparison, compare your texts in each paragraph you write and do not summarise your texts, rather refer to key moments to support your points.

Poetry: (70 marks) two sections; unseen and prescribed. In the unseen part your ability to engage with a poem you have not seen before is tested. To do this you need to think about what poetry is and why it is different to prose. Remember poetry is compressed communication, you see it, hear it and feel it. While you need to learn about a poet's work and life from the writings of others in the prescribed section, do not underestimate your own honest responses to gain top grades. Be guided by the question not by the responses you have prepared. Discuss both the themes and techniques of your chosen poet, the characteristic images and expressions as well as the recurring experiences and emotions. Demonstrate a good understanding of the poem by providing quotes.

Other tips for English exam:

  • answer the question you are directly asked
  • always sketch out your ideas on a page first
  • plan before you write (arranging points in paragraphs)
  • replace commonly used words with less common synonyms (there are many = there is a plethora)
  • buy a good dictionary and thesaurus


Career Possibilities header image

English is valuable for a wide careers in a wide range of areas including: Advertising, Broadcasting, Journalism, Law, Librarianship, Politics, Speech Therapy, Teaching, Sales, Linguistics, Interpretation and Translation to name just a few.



Career Guidance