What are the easiest Leaving Cert subjects?
Subject choice is a tricky business. The Leaving Cert is such a high-stakes exam, choosing the right subjects can be critical for success. Everyone gets involved and students are often bombarded by well-meaning advice from family and friends. “Don’t choose history. Geography is an easier A.” Or, “Go for home economics. It overlaps with biology, and sure those two subjects are easy.”An analysis of grades awarded over the past three years turns much of the received wisdom on its head. Did you know that history students are more likely to get an A, B or C than geography students?
Music offers a much better prospect of an honour than home economics, while well over a quarter of higher-level students who do applied maths can expect to get an A. Two of the most feared subjects at higher level – Irish and maths – offer excellent prospects of getting an honour.
So what can we learn from all this? Be wary of well-meaning voices telling you what you should study. Instead, figure out what you enjoy and what you’re good at. You’ll be more inclined to study if you don’t dread doing a subject, and work is the key to results.
Consult your teachers and your guidance counsellor. If you have no idea what you want to do, make sure your choice of subjects gives you options at third level.
The results people get do make for interesting reading, however. It’s not a road map for success, but rather it’s a sometimes surprising analysis of how students have fared over the past three years.
The 10 ‘easiest’ honours
Music students have consistently been the most likely to receive an A, B or C at higher level in their subject over the past three years. A huge 95 per cent of higher-level music students managed to get an honour.
The rate of As is also high, with between 14 and 18 per cent of higher-level students awarded an A2 or higher. The most awarded grade last year was a B2; 19 per cent of students managed that grade.
For all the grief it can cause, a bit of work at higher-level Irish can reap handsome rewards. It had a huge honours rate last year, when 87 per cent of students got an A, B or C. Irish always has a high honours rate but it has risen significantly over the past three years. The average A, B, C rate over the past three years is 84 per cent.
Last year, 17 per cent of students were awarded an A2 or higher. A-rates in previous years have been lower, at 12 per cent in 2010 and 14 per cent in the following year, but they are still high.
It’s not a particularly well-known subject – fewer than 800 students sat the higher-level paper last year – but technology can be a wise choice if the results are to be believed. Overall, 82 per cent of the students who sat the higher-level paper over the past three years got an honour, while the A rate was a respectable 16 per cent last year.
Just over 2,500 students studied Spanish at higher level last year – French and German are much more popular – but it paid off; 83 per cent of those managed an honour, while the three-year honours rate is 82 per cent.
Last year, 15 per cent of students were awarded an A1. Spanish is increasing in popularity and both the A and honours rates have remained consistent over the past three years.