Dropping maths after the mocks

By now, most of the mock results are back, and for many students this means reconsidering whether or not to remain doing specific subjects at honours level (H ) or changing to ordinary level (O ). This is particularly relevant with maths, given that there are 25 bonus points to be attained if you achieve a H6 (40 per cent ).

Many basic entry level requirements for higher education include a H6 or an O3 for maths. Even though a H7 is not considered a fail, students are not rewarded with bonus points for this result. Consequently, a result of 30 per cent (H7 ) is a tough call. The risk is 37 points for a H7 (equivalent to 03 ) or 71 points for a H6 (46+25 ), which is not achievable at ordinary level. The subject teacher is always the best placed person to help the student make this decision as he/she knows the student and is aware of his/her ability.

Should you stay in higher or drop to “pass” maths? There is no one answer fits all, so what are the questions you need to ask yourself before making this decision?

Pertinent questions

Does your third level course require Higher Level maths for entry purposes? Know the facts. The vast majority of engineering courses in universities require higher level maths. That aside, higher level maths is a benefit in many engineering and science courses as they may have a high maths content (even if HL is not an entry requirement ). Maths skills are transferable, particularly in STEM areas. Are you depending on maths for the extra points? Are you willing to maintain or increase the effort you give to maths, to attain the grade you need?

Could you achieve the extra 25 points by shifting your focus from the HL maths to your best subjects?

Do you actually enjoy maths compared to other subjects? Maybe it just was not your best day or you did not have time to prepare properly if your recent mark was poor.

Possible reasons for choosing Ordinary Level

Maths may not be your strongest area and may be taking up a lot of your time. Is it impacting on the time you spend on other subjects?

HL maths might not be required for your third level course or career. An ordinary level grade may be enough for entry, and might be easier for you to attain.

You may decide you have a better chance of a high grade in ordinary now, rather than dropping on the day out of panic. Ask yourself, “Am I currently able to manage the workload for HL maths? Can I keep up with my class, my homework, and my revision, and not let it impact negatively on some of my other subjects? Am I stressed to breaking points with higher level maths?”

What happens if I fail maths?

If you fail it is unlikely you can progress to third level this year, however you can repeat maths if it is your only poor result and use your other six subjects for points purposes only. It would be advisable to talk to the guidance counsellor in your school as to the best way forward, as it is different for every student. Where there is a will, there is a way, and for any students willing to put in the work, they get there in the end.

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