Saturday 3 December 2016

Changing subject level on the day

What students must consider when dropping to Ordinary Level

Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30

Moving from Higher Level to Ordinary Level can be a stressful decision.
Moving from Higher Level to Ordinary Level can be a stressful decision.

You've reached Leaving Certificate. You have chosen subjects and levels that will give you the best options for achieving the right college course and ultimately the right career. You've picked subjects you were interested in, subjects you were good at, subjects in which you could achieve good results, and subjects which will meet minimum or specific entry requirements for progression in education.

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Coming close to examination time though, some students review their subject levels and opt to change down to Ordinary Level. Here are some of the reasons why students opt to change:

* Struggling to cope with the demands of the subject at Higher Level

* Deciding to concentrate on subjects where you can gather the optimum number of points

* The subject at Higher Level is not a minimum entry requirement

* The subject at Higher Level is not a specific entry requirement

* A decision to change your CAO choices

* Advice of a teacher, guidance counsellor, or other educational professional

* Due to illness or bereavement or other personal issue.

What to do

In the first instance, you should consult with your teacher who is the person best placed to help you make the right decision. Having worked with you over the past year or more, they will generally have good insight into your potential level of attainment at each level.

Remember the decision is ultimately yours, but good decision-making involves consulting the right people for advice and counselling.

Talk to your guidance counsellor. They will be able to steer you through any possible implications of changing down from higher to ordinary or foundation Level. They will talk you through any course requirements you need to be aware of. They will also discuss alternatives with you, and any changes you might wish to make to your CAO course choices.

Finally, discuss the matter with your parents or trusted older siblings.

In some subjects, the course material examined in the Leaving Certificate may vary between Higher, Ordinary or Foundation Level.

Be sure to clarify this with your teacher, and identify any additional notes or topics you will need to study.

When you have weighed up all the evidence and made your decision to drop back to Ordinary Level in a particular subject, you need to take the following steps:

* Inform your teacher.

* Make any necessary changes to your CAO form. (NB - Changes to your CAO Course Choice can be made up until 1st July for all except Restricted Entry Courses. For this reason many students opt to amend their CAO application once they have completed the Leaving Certificate and can make a good decision without being under undue pressure).

* Use any extra study time that becomes available to concentrate on revision in your other subjects.

What not to do

* Don't make any hasty or impetuous decisions

* Try not to take the advice of someone who is not well placed to give you the advice that is in your best interests.

* Don't get stressed. It's natural to be apprehensive about any changes to your Leaving Certificate plans at this stage. Make the decision that is best for you on the basis of the information available, and then carry on with your studies.

- Betty Mc Laughlin

If you do decide to move from the Higher Level to Ordinary Level, there are many other more manageable options and entry routes into a chosen career.

Studies have also shown that intelligence and aptitude continues to develop into our twenties, and what may not be a realistic target of attainment for you in Sixth Year may easily become a very manageable goal later on.

So, if dropping down to Ordinary Level in your Science subjects means you have to postpone your dream career in medicine, for example, don't despair.

There are many routes into your chosen career including Graduate Entry, Mature Student Entry and Study Abroad Options. If in doubt, consult your Guidance Counsellor.

Irish Independent

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