Starting a solid and successful Leaving Certificate 2017 year

Summer results

Whatever the story, each Leaving Certificate student will benefit from a clear analysis of his/her year, and results of the year gone by, and the putting in place of a personal structure and a goal for the year ahead. September through October is a good time to do all this.

Subject levels

While many students can confidently continue taking all their subjects at honours level, there will always be students who now face the challenge of staying at honours level or dropping to ordinary level in one or two of their Leaving Certificate subjects.

For some students the move to Ordinary Level may have already been made – and indeed this may have been the plan all along. But, for other students, the decision to drop down may well be a struggle. In so doing, a student needs to be aware of the consequences of the decision, such as leaving behind a subject requirement for a chosen career.

This, in particular, will relate to a student who may be considering courses such as primary teaching education or engineering Level 8, to name but two. Students will need to be particularly vigilant, this year, in relation to the exact subject grade and level requirement in the point-scoring system for Leaving Certificate applicants 2017.

HEI Common Points Scale 2017

The CAO Handbook 2017 sets out the new HEI Common Points Scale (see page 18 ) and individual college prospectus will outline specific subject, grade and level, requirements for each of their courses. If in doubt, always check directly with the admissions office of a specific college. Again – the inside cover of the CAO Handbook 2017 lists all such contact details.

The benefit of help

There can be many factors that may influence a student’s performance in any individual subject. These need to be clearly understood, in particular where a student may be considering dropping a grade requirement for a longed-for course. Always check if one-to-one or small group assistance, along with a student’s own hard work, may be sufficient to turn such a subject around.

Seek this analysis and additional help – now. Do not wait ‘until the mocks’ before you seek help – when a student will be under even more pressure and with a lot less time to fully benefit from subject intervention and support.

Equally, remember when a course requires a specific subject grade and level requirement – it is good to realise, even as far back as Junior Certificate, when deep and important foundations are being built, that the minimum requirement is the minimum. Students are strongly advised to seek the highest grade that they can personally achieve in such subjects, for these required subjects will be a key part of their future course success and happiness.


Few students who choose to repeat their Leaving Certificate need to be reminded to study. They know, sometimes to their great cost, that you do not take short cuts; that you learn – night by night, week by week – gradually building up each subject; first with the basics, then with the security of weekly work well done. Helping a student to realise this early in the school year can make such a difference.

Discuss with a student where he/she finds it best to complete homework and study each night and each weekend. Do this now.

Many students need the security and the discipline of supervised study, either in their own school, or with outside providers. Where this is possible or suitable, such a decision may be the start a student needs to a confident and structured school year ahead.

And while there are those fortunate students who can study confidently at home, other families may not be in a financial position to pay for supervised study. Try then, maybe, the caring and possibly quiet environment of a nearby grandparent's house. And, in the most distracted cases, consider moving homework and study back down to the kitchen table. Though drastic, in some cases this can most definitely work.

Setting goals

Getting subjects and study organised is the best way for a student to start planning goals. Regardless of which career or course a student may be aspiring to achieve, in the end, it will be the story of their future results, and the reliability of their work, that will be the means by which they will unlock and enter a future course and career path – one that is just right for them.

Believing in and experiencing this structure is the first step for all Leaving Certificate students – weak or strong. Planned and consistent work, together with being happy in school, with sensible rest and relaxation, is the basis for achieving and identifying suitable and successful courses and careers ahead.

Marie Barrett is founder of MBCS, Marie Barrett Career Services, Loughrea, Co Galway. She is author of The Education Guide and contributes to national and local radio education programmes. MBCS works individually with second-level students and parents in student career, study and education planning. Contact: 091 841424/086 2359751 or [email protected].



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