Grades drop in higher maths as numbers up

A record 52% of Junior Cert students sat higher-level maths this year

Student interest in foreign languages continues to increase marginally, although the popularity of French has declined by almost two points to 57.2 per cent.

Student interest in foreign languages continues to increase marginally, although the popularity of French has declined by almost two points to 57.2 per cent.

Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 06:00


A drop in higher-level maths honours grades and an increased interest in foreign languages are among the trends in the Junior Cert results published this morning.

A record 52 per cent of Junior Cert students sat higher-level maths this year, up from 46 per cent in 2011 and 48 per cent in 2012. For the first time, students in all schools sat exams with a component from Project Maths, the controversial new syllabus that focuses on real world maths applications.

Congratulating students on their results, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he was “especially pleased to see that the positive trend of more young people sitting higher-level maths is continuing”.


New course
In the first year of the new course, the proportion of students securing an A, B or C grade in higher-level maths fell from 79.2 to 78.3 per cent, while the number of students achieving an A grade dropped by just over three points to 11.9 per cent. The failure rate is up by 0.5 per cent.

The State Examinations Commission welcomed the increased uptake of higher-level maths but suggested that this may have caused a decline in the proportion of students securing an A grade.

However, the results for ordinary-level maths candidates have improved significantly. The proportion of A, B and C grades has gone up by one point to 76.2 per cent, the number of D grades has risen from 17 to 17.7 per cent, and failure rate has fallen from 6.7 to 5.2 per cent.


Foreign languages
Student interest in foreign languages continues to increase marginally, although the popularity of French has declined by almost two points to 57.2 per cent.

More students are now choosing to study German or Spanish instead, with numbers up by 0.9 and 1.3 per cent, respectively. Spanish, in particular, is seen by students as a particularly useful language, and an increased number of schools are offering it as a subject. However, fewer students secured an A, B, or C grade in the higher-level Spanish paper.

The emphasis on foreign languages at second level has increased in recent years as companies report a severe shortage of workers with language skills.

The surge in numbers taking higher-level maths suggests that many Junior Cert students are drawn to the new Project Maths syllabus. However, higher-level candidates are also positioning themselves to take higher-level maths at Leaving Cert level, where a D grade or higher will secure them 25 CAO bonus points and boost their chances of securing their college place of choice.