This time last year I was wrecking my head (and everyone around me’s head) trying to choose which subjects to take for my Leaving Cert.
I researched just about every subject, read through all the textbooks, and had countless meetings with my Career Guidance teacher to help me decide.
So, one year later, with the experience of three subjects that I love, I’m going to give you some advice….
Advice On How To Choose Your Leaving Cert Subjects
Keep in mind the subjects that you like
This is arguably the most important factor in choosing your Leaving Cert subjects. Remember, that you will be dedicating hours of your time and lots of energy to these subjects so ensure that you like them. Keep in mind the subjects that you enjoyed for Junior Cycle when making your decision.
Check any subject requirements for college courses
While most students have no idea what they want to study in college, most of us have a general idea of what field we are interested in. As per career guidance teacher Louise O’ Callaghan, researching the subject requirements for potential courses is the most important thing you should do when deciding your Leaving cert subjects. “ Websites such as ‘CareersPortal’ and ‘Qualifax ‘, highlight the specific subject requirements for each course in the country eg; chemistry is needed for veterinary in UCD, biology is needed for genetics in UCC and Higher Level Irish is essential for Primary school teaching.”
Louise also advises to be aware of that “well-meaning family member that knows everything” and to carry out your own research on courses. “We all have that one aunt that knows everything and will tell you what to do. They often advise a science subject or a business to keep your options open but really, it is not essential. Only 124 courses require a science subject and often I find that the students who struggle with and hate science have no intention of doing those courses. Really, I’m just saying that if you do your own research it will save you from wasting a valuable subject on something you aren’t strong at when you don’t need to.”
Speak to teachers and students that do the subject
If anyone knows about the subject, it’s the person that is learning it. Ask a friend, sibling, or relative that has studied the subject and ask them some questions about it. The students are the people that are sitting the subject every day and know its requirements best. They have the most useful perspective. You can also ask the teacher for advice. Most teachers are delighted to discuss their subject with you and will be happy to help with your decision. This can be especially helpful if you had a teacher for Junior Cycle as they know you and your capabilities.
Have a look through the textbook of subjects that you’re considering
I will be entirely honest and say that I did kinda roll my eyes at my Career Guidance teacher when she insisted on me doing this, but ultimately is what led to me finally making a decision. Have a skim at the content and the chapters of the subjects that you’re considering taking. Have a look at some of the questions and ask yourself if you can see yourself studying the subject. I found myself getting lost in the history book and eager to learn more, which ultimately led to me choosing the subject.
Consider how you learn
Despite what people say, there is no such thing as an easy Leaving Cert subject- or everyone would be doing it. What makes the subject easy is if it corresponds with your learning style.
If you like figures and numbers, then subjects like Accounting, Physics, or Chemistry are the way to go.
If you like practical work, take a look at the likes of Biology, Chemistry, Home Economics, Music, and Art.
Or if you prefer to learn theory, consider Business, Home Economics, and Geography.
Knowing the way you learn is so important in not just choosing the subject, but succeeding in it. From a points perspective, you should be aiming to study your chosen subjects at a higher level. Taking a learning styles quiz will be really helpful in this process.
Be aware of any projects/portfolio work that is required for a subject
Some Leaving Cert subjects require you to complete a project or portfolio element that is worth a percentage of your overall grade. Home Economics requires you to do the Food Studies Journal. Meanwhile, History and Geography both require a research project.
Some students like this as it reduces the pressure on exam day while others find them exhaustive and pressure-inducing in their everyday school day. Consider how you felt about your CBA’s for Junior Cycle and if you liked them, maybe these subjects might be for you.
The most important thing, however, is to not panic. While your teachers are probably reiterating the importance of your decision, at the end of the day it is not the be-all and end-all. Most schools will facilitate a swap if you’re really struggling and remember there are always great online resources such as Quizlet and StudyClix that you can use.
Good luck with your decision!
Have you any advice on how to choose Leaving Cert subjects?