The career guidance counsellor’s advice for the class of 2021
The current sixth year group was hit hard by the school closures. They are now facing into a difficult year preparing for Leaving Cert having missed three months of school.
At this time of year many Leaving Cert students wish to drop level in their core subjects. They may have hung in there for the last number of years and are now accepting this level of study is too much or they may be doing more than six higher level subjects and want to reduce the workload.
In recognition of the amount of class contact time which has already been missed by the class of 2021, the Department of Education has reviewed the assessment of Leaving Cert and has released new assessment guidelines for the Leaving Cert 2021. The changes outlined in this document will give students more choice in their exams and therefore remove some of the pressure to study every topic to the same high level.
Every subject has been adapted to make the workload somewhat more manageable without compromising the detail of each topic. A clear document is available on education.ie with detail for each subject. The subjects which are most often sat at ordinary level are: Maths and Irish.
Changes to Maths
The higher level and ordinary maths exam previously required students to complete all questions, and now allow limited choice in both section A and section B. In section A candidates may complete five out of six questions while in section B four out of the five questions will be acceptable.
Changes to Irish
In higher level Irish the number of Sraith Pictúir which candidates must learn has been reduced from 20 to 10. In the An Litríocht section candidates have more choice in question two and three. Similar reductions and choices are also available at ordinary level.
When considering dropping a level it is essential to consider these changes before making any decisions. As always, it is preferable to take the higher level exam whenever possible. This will maximise your points as well as increase the likelihood of achieving the necessary entry requirements. Any Leaving Cert candidate who is currently considering dropping a level should have a discussion with their teacher about how these assessment changes may affect their chances before committing to dropping.
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Q. I did not have a great fifth year as I found it difficult to get back into a study routine and then engage with remote learning. I could have worked harder but I resolved to work really hard in sixth year and am doing my very best. I am finding I do not have time to study because of all the homework I am getting. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed already. What should I do?
A. Leaving cert year is a tough year especially if you feel like you are already on the back foot. Yes, having a good fifth year will lay the foundation for a less stressful sixth year but in reality most students report that they could have done better in fifth year. This year there were of course extra challenges so I think your story is true for most Leaving Cert students today. There is still plenty of time to do the necessary work to get good grades if you start now.
Your question is a common one from students every year. They wonder if they should rush their homework in order to revise but this is a very bad idea.
Whether it's study or homework you will need to know the information before June and it's most certainly easier to learn this content properly the first time than having to revisit it later in the year.
Try and view homework as study that the teacher has said you have to do and see it as part of the bigger picture. It is all part of getting you a good grade at the end of the year.
Every student should start immediately doing small amounts of work every day. Remember, homework and studying for class tests are the foundations for good study. Not only should they not be forgotten, they should be prioritised.