Friday 19 January 2018

Preparation for college starts in third year and transition year

The PLC application process is simple and students apply directly to any college where there is a course of interest to them
The PLC application process is simple and students apply directly to any college where there is a course of interest to them

Aoife Walsh

Leaving Cert year is always an important year in the process of entering third level, but student preparation begins much earlier than this. During third year and transition year (TY), students begin to consider carefully what subjects they may take for Leaving Cert.

The decision to take or drop certain subjects may have an impact on post-Leaving Cert opportunities, but, more importantly, can influence how a student performs at Leaving Cert overall.

Here are three considerations to help students make good choices for Leaving Cert:

Choose what you like

Every subject at Leaving Cert is challenging. Most schools offer five class periods a week for each subject; in addition, students should be doing two to three hours further study in their own time. This means students will be spending a lot of time engaging in subjects for the next two years. By choosing subjects that they like, they will find studying easier, and even enjoyable.

Students who study subjects that they enjoy are likely to perform better in those subjects, such as achieving higher grades at Leaving Cert and higher CAO points. Having higher points means that students will have more options after Leaving Cert and will be able to compete for access to more courses.

Students are also likely to pursue third level courses that are related to subjects they enjoyed at school. Therefore, by choosing subjects they will enjoy, students are likely to be choosing what they may need as well.

Choose what you are good at

All students hope to achieve the best possible Leaving Cert that they can. One way students can maximise their results is by playing to their strengths. Similarly, students often hope to pursue areas at third level in which they have been successful at school. It is likely that by choosing subjects they are good at, they are also choosing subjects relevant to future study or work

There are a number of ways in which young people can gauge their strengths. Firstly, consider Junior Certificate results, if they are available. It is important not only to look at the subjects in which the student achieved the highest grades, but also why student performed best in these. Perhaps the subject was taught by a favourite teacher, perhaps a large project component helped.

At this stage, many students will also have participated in some aptitude testing. It is important to consider these results and discuss them with someone who is able to interpret them and discuss them, such as a guidance counsellor. Other testing is available on

Finally, students should consider their hobbies and interests, subjects they have taken in TY and should speak to their families and friends.

Think about what you may need

Depending on the study area of interest, there are several subjects that may be required for entry to third level. However, often these requirements are less complex than originally thought. Students should spend about 80pc of their time considering what they like and what they are good at, and 20pc considering what they need.

If students have ideas about what they would like to study after school, they should research the entry requirements for these courses thoroughly in different institutions.

If students are not clear on what they would like to study at third level, they should research the requirements for a different areas and consider common themes. This can be done on, where entering key words will throw up a list of relevant courses and their descriptions. Students should pay particular attention when considering choices in the areas of languages, sciences and technical subjects.

Important dates


Dunboyne College of Further Education: Open Day

Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences: Open Day

UCAS 2015: Extra begins


Ormonde College of Further Education: Closing date, applications for first round of interviews


HPAT Ireland test


Closing date for amending CAO course choices online (€10 fee )

Closing date for final completion of online CAO HEAR/DARE forms


Mountbellew Agricultural College: Openday


DIT: Portfolio submission dates for art, design and printing (2 days)

Westport College of Further Education: Open Day

Irish Independent

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