Billy Ryle: After The Junior Cert Results, It’s Time To Choose Subjects Wisely

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As hundreds of students in Tralee schools get their results this morning, Career Guidance Counsellor, Billy Ryle, says the Junior Cert is a very important exam in its own right…

Junior Cert exam results were issued on Wednesday morning to 61,654 (30,349 female, 31,305 male) candidates nationwide, including 1,858 (923 female/935male) candidates from Kerry.

The results nationwide are excellent and well deserved after three years of dedicated study. Kerry’s Junior Cert candidates performed superbly and easily maintained the standard of previous years.

Junior Cert candidates, including the 878 re-entrant to education candidates (mature, etc.) should now continue onto Leaving Cert cycle. A good education is the passport to knowledge, a good quality of life and a fulfilling career.

Continued below…


Of course, today is a day to celebrate the Junior Cert results but do so sensibly and safely.

Six new grade descriptors – Distinction, Higher Merit, Merit, Achieved, Partially Achieved, and Not Graded – are being used for English this year in the reformed Junior Cycle programme.

There will be dual presentation of grades until 2021 when the Junior Cert will be phased out and replaced entirely with the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA).

Up to 2021, both the old and the new grading systems will appear side-by-side on the results on the new JCPA, which will be issued for the first time this year.

The JCPA will also record, under a separate heading, student achievements in class room based assessments under five descriptors – exceptional, above expectations, in line with expectations, yet to meet expectations and not reported.

The JCPA will also be used to record other achievement in areas such as sport and debating.

The Junior Cert exam is often overshadowed by the more public Leaving Cert exam but it’s a very important exam in its own right.

With very few students now leaving school after this exam, the Junior Cert is a passport to Senior Cycle education, which is a further two years – three years if the optional Transition Year is included.

The traditional Leaving Cert exam, a Level 5 qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), is the terminal exam of post-primary education.

Students usually study seven subjects including Irish, English and Mathematics. All subjects are available at higher and ordinary level. A foundation level paper is also available in Irish and Mathematics.

The Leaving Cert Vocational Programme (LCVP) ), also a Level 5 qualification on the NFQ,  is similar to the traditional Leaving Cert, with a concentration on technical subjects and some additional modules called Link Modules, which have a vocational focus.

The Leaving Cert Applied (LCA), a Level 4 qualification on the NFQ, is a self-contained two-year course, which meets the needs of students who are not adequately catered for by the other Leaving Cert programmes.

It is a person-centered course involving a cross-curricular approach rather than a subject based structure.

Most schools will now give students moving onto Leaving Cert a few days to firm up their subject grouping for Senior Cycle. Students should make the most of this opportunity to carefully consider their Leaving Cert subject choice, think about their course options and the related careers.

In the end, they should choose wisely as this is the first step on the path to college. Congratulations to all candidates, who received Junior Cert exam results.

Billy Ryle is a career guidance counsellor and freelance writer

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