Saturday 20 January 2018

Undecided on Leaving Cert subject choices

Q My daughter is in Transition year, and must soon choose her subjects for the Leaving Certificate. She still has not a clue what she wants to do when she finishes school. We are afraid she could rule herself out of some thirdlevel course in two years time by failing to choose the right subjects now.

A Leaving Certificate subject choice is not as full of pitfalls as people imagine. Most students take seven subjects for the Leaving Certificate. (Under the CAO points scheme, the results of your best six subjects are counted for points.)

All students must choose a mixture of subjects, including some ‘core’ subjects and some optional choices.

All students take Irish, unless they have grounds for being exempted. Generally speaking, they take English also. Most students will take another language, usually a modern European language, although the range of languages being examined is increasing.

With a number of exceptions, students who apply to honours degree courses of the National University of Ireland (NUI) must present Irish, English and another language. However, the exceptions to the NUI third language requirements are increasing, and students without a third language should check the individual course requirements carefully.

The ‘three-language rule’ does not apply to other universities or to the institutes of technology. Trinity College, Dublin, requires applicants to present English and another language, as does the University of Limerick. One language, either Irish or English, will satisfy the requirements of most institutes of technology.

Most students take Mathematics, which is an essential entry requirement for practically all courses in many third level colleges and colleges of further education. It is also a requirement for many courses in colleges, even where it is not a general college entry requirement. UCD, for example, does not require mathematics as a general rule of entry, but it is a course requirement in that university for all degree programmes except most arts degrees, law and social science.

Students are usually advised to take a laboratory science subject from the group, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physics/Chemistry, or Agricultural Science. If a student really does not want to study science, there are plenty of third level courses open to them, but not in the science or healthcare area.

A very small number of courses require two laboratory science subjects, for example, Medicine and Dentistry in Trinity College and in University College Cork or the five-year medical degree in RCSI. NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) or UCD will accept one laboratory science subject for entry to their sixyear medical programmes.

When college courses require a science subject, they often do not specify any particular one.

A small number of courses single out Chemistry as a specific entry requirement. Chemistry is essential for Veterinary Medicine in UCD, Pharmacy in Trinity, Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the degree course jointly taught by DIT Kevin St and Trinity.

Applicants should check the prospectuses and websites of colleges or

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