Five things we’ve learned from this year’s Leaving Cert results
Brian Mooney on some of they key trends from the 2016 exams
The Irish Times free online results helpdesk, offering real-time advice, is available at irishtimes.com/results2016. Photograph: Eric Luke
1) Minority languages are growing – and scoring big
The stars of this year’s Leaving Cert are the 333 students who sat higher level Russian. Some 82 per cent received an A, while 98 per cent secured an honour. Many of these candidates are, of course, native speakers.
The changing profile of the student population in our schools since the expansion of the EU into eastern Europe is reflected in those taking other non-traditional languages.
In 2016, some 1,424 students did so, of whom over 50 per cent or 717 sat Polish. Lithuanian and Romanian were far behind on 202 and 167 respectively.
2) Hands-on subjects are yielding high marks
Higher level exam subjects which have a high level of hands-on activity – such as home economics, design and communications , art, engineering, construction studies – have yielded particularly high marks.
All secured very high levels of honours grades – between 83 and 79 per cent – for their students in 2016. Many of these subjects involve some form of practical work or submitted work alongside written papers.
3) Maths isn’t adding up at ordinary level
There has been a significant increase in the number of students failing to secure a minimum of a grade D at ordinary level maths, up from 5.8 to 9.2 per cent.
The overall number failing to secure a D grade across all three maths levels rose to 4,037 students, of whom 3,000 did so at ordinary level.
At higher level, some 700 students achieved below 40 per cent. Whereas they will be excluded from offers on many CAO courses this year, most of them will have their grade reclassified as a H7 (30<40 per cent ) when the new Leaving Cert grading structure is introduced in the coming academic year.
On a more positive note, the number of higher level maths students has grown to more than 15,000, with 71 per cent securing an honours grade, up from only 9,000 a few years back. This will gladden the heart of both Government and industry.
4) Many found something was lost in translation in their foreign language exams
The proportion of exam candidates securing honours in higher level Spanish and German dropped significantly.
In Spanish, a total of 76 per cent received an honour (down 8 per cent), while 71 per cent secured an A, B or C grade in German (down 4 per cent). (It’s worth noting, however, that the numbers taking Spanish at higher level increased substantially from 3,655 to 4,405).
There was also a drop in honours for students of French: a total of 74 per cent received an A, B or C grade, down 4 per cent on last year.
5) Repeating the Leaving is a fast-disappearing phenomenon
Fewer and fewer are repeating the Leaving Cert. The numbers doing so have now dropped to 1,445, down by more than a thousand (from 2,448) in five years. Students, increasingly, have more options and alternative routes to secure the courses they wish to do.
The numbers taking the Leaving Cert Applied are also continuing to drop and are down 15 per cent over the past five years, even though overall numbers taking the Leaving Cert have increased steadily. Only 2,758 students sat this exam in 2016.
* This article has been amended to correct a factual error
Results 2016 + Irish Times Irish Times Helpdesk
The Irish Times will provide comprehensive analysis of this year’s Leaving Cert results and all the advice you need on what to do next.
Helpdesk: If you have a question, post a query to our expert career guidance counsellors on our free online results helpdesk (www.irishtimes.com/results2016) for real-time advice or to browse other replies from today onwards.
Results 2016: What subjects are up? What subjects are down? See irishtimes.com/ results2016 from 6am today for analysis of the latest trends in this year’s results by Education Editor Carl O’Brien. Also, check out our comprehensive Results 2016 supplement in the newspaper.
Reaction: How did our IrishTimes exam diarists from Nagle Community College in Cork get on? “I have my results – what next?”: Irish Times careers expert Brian Mooney will give daily advice on what you can expect and how to handle it.
Life after the Leaving: Advice from celebrities on how they fared following their exams.
Accommodation hunt: How to beat the rush.
CAO offers: The first round of CAO college offers are due next Monday. Check out our website from 6am for the latest news and our CAO Round One supplement, which will have all the cut-off points for college places this year, plus advice on offers.