UP to eight-in-10 Leaving Cert students admit that the chance of getting good marks is an important factor in their choice of subjects.
Boys are more likely to do so than girls, and boys are also more likely to be influenced by what their friends are doing.
The findings back up anecdotal evidence that Leaving Cert students pick certain subjects because they are regarded as "easier". It contributes to the "points' race" and is also responsible for many dropping Maths Higher Level in favour of a subject where less effort is required for the same or a better result.
Two reports from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) give new insights into the choices and challenges of fifth and sixth-year students, including a breakdown of reasons they select subjects.
Liking the subjects and finding them interesting were important factors for more than 90pc of students. After that, the two reasons cited most were needing subjects for further education or to get a good job.
However, good marks were important for about 80pc -- including 25pc for whom it was very important.
Liking the teacher was important for about 50pc of students, while the influence of friends was a factor for about 25pc.
According to the study, girls were more likely to pick a subject because they liked it or found it interesting, which is consistent with previous findings that they engage more with school work.
They are also more likely to mention needing a subject for further education, probably reflecting their greater tendency to go to college.
The study also revealed that 58pc of sixth-years regret taking one or more of their subjects.
The subjects most commonly mentioned are biology (14pc), French (12pc), geography (11pc), history (9pc) and business (9pc).