There are lots of factors to consider when choosing subjects for Leaving Cert so it's important to do your research and make an informed decision. Use the CourseFinder to search courses and explore their individual entry requirements.
Your're good at what you enjoy
It’s much harder to do well in a subject that you don’t enjoy. Choose what you're good at, it will come naturally to you. Studying a subject you enjoy can decrease the pressure and workload immensely.
Most students will study a European language. A third language is required for entry to National University of Ireland colleges for most degree programmes in Arts, Human Sciences, Law, Social Science, Commerce, Medicine and Health Sciences and some other degrees. If you want to keep all your options open stick with the language studies.
- Having a lab science (Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physics & Chemistry) is a requirement for some courses so it is good to be aware of these before dropping science from your list.
- Be aware that most courses in healthcare professions require a science subject e.g. nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy. Additionally some medical courses require two science subjects such as Dentistry and Medicine.
- Some engineering courses require a science subject but many will accept an alternative e.g. the Leaving Cert subject Technology is accepted as an alternative for Maynooth MH304 and UCC CK600.
- Biology is a firm favourite amongst students. Year-on-year the number of candidates taking biology is in excess of the number of candidates taking all the other sciences combined. It is the most popular Leaving Cert optional subject but this doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. Mathematically minded students may do better in Chemistry or Physics.
Practical subjects have project work that accounts for a substantial percentage of the overall grade. This can ease the burden of studying on students. Having a practical focus can also add variety to your Leaving Cert subject combination.
Course Work and Projects
Many subjects now contain a course work or project element and unfortunately the deadlines for these projects fall very closely together.
- The deadline for the DCG coursework is in late February. March sees the deadline for projects in Home Economics, Engineering, Art, Technology and LCVP.
- Agricultural Science coursework deadline is early April and the end of April sees the coursework deadline for History and Geography, as well as Religious Studies, Music, Home Economics (textile elective) and the Construction Studies project.
- It is wise to consider the coursework involved in the subject combination you are thinking about before making your final decision.
Interests and Aptitude/Ability Assessments
Most schools will administer aptitude tests and offer feedback on your performance. You may show signs of having natural aptitude in one or two areas. Some areas you might show strengths in include: verbal or numerical reasoning, spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning. Strengths in these areas will point you in direction of career areas that could compliment your ability.
The Career Interests Profiler on CareersPortal takes about 15 minutes to complete. This instrument provides you with a free printable report containing a summary of your career interests, along with some occupations that match your interest profile. Being armed with this information helps students to pick subjects that might feed into these careers.
Everyone wants to reduce the workload so think about what subjects might overlap. Home Economics and Biology overlap in human anatomy sections. There is a strong correlation between Physics and Applied Maths, and Agricultural Science has some overlap with Geography and Biology. The Link Modules in the LCVP programme are deeply rooted in the Business Studies course; if a student chooses complimentary subjects they might be able to cut down on some of the study.
If you choose to study higher level maths it is worth noting that you will be rewarded an extra 25 points provided you achieve a H1 - H6 grade. Maths is not a requirement for every course and the number of courses now accepting foundation level maths has increased.
Use the 'Accepts Foundation Level Maths' or 'No Maths Required' filters on the CourseFinder to search relevant courses.
A few final tips
Do your research – organising to meet with your career guidance counsellor can be of great value. Many subjects are very different from their Junior Cert equivalent so make sure the course is what you imagined it to be.
Pick a broad range of subjects:
- One language
- One buisiness
- One science
- One humanities / applied Science
This combination will allow access to a broad range of courses/ careers.
And lastly. . .
Be independent, try not to be overly influenced by others, choose the subjects you want to do and not the subjects all your friends are doing.
See our Quick Tips area for some brief pointers on choosing each subject.
For more detailed information, browse Leaving Cert Subjects.