Numbers taking higher level subjects in Leaving Cert rise

Numbers taking higher level subjects in Leaving Cert rise

There was a slight increase in the number of students gravitating towards higher-level subjects, an analysis of data from the State Examinations Commission shows.

With more than a third of students opting to sit the higher-level maths exam in 2019, 92.7% of these students earned themselves an additional 25 bonus points by achieving a H6 grade or higher.

Since the introduction of the bonus scheme in 2012, the number of students opting for higher-level maths has more than doubled. This year’s data shows that 1,089 students achieved the maximum 125 marks available by attaining a coveted H1 grade in the subject.

This represents 6% of students who opted for higher-level maths and almost 2% of all students who took the subject. Overall, 2019 saw a slight increase compared to 2018 in the number of students qualifying for the bonus and a 17% increase in the numbers of students achieving top marks.

Of course, every year the maths failure rate is the subject of much-warranted scrutiny; In 2019, 326 students who sat the higher-level exam did not manage to achieve the required 30%. As such, these students did not secure any CAO points for this exam. A further 980 students achieved a H7, a grade which attracts 37 points.

A slightly smaller percentage of students this year opted for the ordinary-level maths paper, 57% in 2019 compared to 58% of students in 2018. Looking at the ordinary-level results, more than 1,350 students did not achieve 30%, with 4.3% of students who sat the exam receiving an O8.

Just 1.7% of students who took on the ordinary level paper secured an O1, the top grade which achieves 56 points. Almost 10% of students in 2019 opted to take the foundation-level maths paper, with 142 students attaining a F8 grade.

More students opted to sit higher-level Irish this year, continuing the upward trend seen in recent years. Almost 48% of 48,334 students this year opted for the Irish higher-level paper, which is roughly in line with last year’s figures and nearly 5% more students than in 2017.

This may be due to a renowned focus on the oral exam, first introduced in 2012, which sees 40% of the subject’s total marks allocated based on a 15-minute interview. A further 46% sat the Irish ordinary level exam in June, and almost 6% chose foundation level.

This year’s data shows it is still relatively rare for students to achieve top marks in both higher-and ordinary-level English, with just 2.9% and 1.5%, respectively, achieving top grades. This is roughly in line with last year.

However, it still remains relatively common for students to achieve good marks in the subject, with 60.9% of higher-level students and 57.10% of ordinary-level students achieving a H4 or O4 or higher.

Looking at the European languages, French saw an increase in the number of students receiving H1s. Almost 8% of students who sat the higher Spanish paper also achieved a top mark, and more than 6% of students who chose the higher-level German paper attained a H1.

There were no major upsets when it comes to the science subjects; However, one slight surprise may come in the form of a reduction in the number of students achieving top marks in higher level biology.

Almost 8% of those who sat the exam achieved a H1 this year, just under 2,085 students.

This compares to 3,078 students who achieved a top grade in 2018, when 11.6% of students received H1 grades.

Interestingly, 70% of home economics students who opted for the higher-level paper attained a H4 or higher as their grade, achieving a minimum of 66 points. This might be due to the fact practical coursework makes up 20% of a student’s final grade for the subject.

History, art, and Geography, subjects that also include practical coursework, all saw relatively high numbers of students achieving solid results.

More on this topic

Record level of Leaving Cert appeals under new processRecord level of Leaving Cert appeals under new process

Students left in Leaving Cert limbo without effective legislation around cheatingStudents left in Leaving Cert limbo without effective legislation around cheating

Many young people ‘falling through cracks of education’Many young people ‘falling through cracks of education’

Letter to Editor: Show the darker side of examsLetter to Editor: Show the darker side of exams

More in this Section

Idealism first casualty in an auction electionIdealism first casualty in an auction election

EU mortgages €80k cheaper than oursEU mortgages €80k cheaper than ours

President is rightPresident is right

Letter to the Editor: Ireland can be a ray of light in an intolerant worldLetter to the Editor: Ireland can be a ray of light in an intolerant world


Lifestyle

It still surprises me as I am achingly private and do not enjoy being at the centre of attention.This Much I Know: Actor Aislin McGuckin

Bride Geraldine O’Donovan felt as wonderful as she looked on her big day — knowing she was supporting a cause close to her heart as she donned her wedding gown.Wedding on the Week: Supporting a cause close to their hearts

I did my Leaving Cert in June and have just started college this week, so my school experience is extremely fresh in my memory. I went to Davis College in Mallow and it was a fantastic experience. I was the loud obnoxious child at the back of the classroom from day one. I had to (and still do, by the way) have an opinion on everything.Stand up and be counted : The Young Offender's Demi Isaac Oviawe on college and school life

When I was in secondary school I started working part-time as a waitress and I suppose I caught the hospitality bug back then.You've been served: General manager at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Caitriona O’Keeffe

More From The Irish Examiner