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In numbers: how Ireland's students fared in Leaving Cert 2011

Which subjects had the best pass rates? Which had the fewest taking higher level? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out.

10 - The number of people jumping in this photograph.
10 - The number of people jumping in this photograph.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

TENS OF THOUSANDS of teenagers – and quite a few others – are digesting the results of their Leaving Certificate exams, after being given their results at schools around the country, and online, earlier today.

While much attention has been devoted to the high failure rates in core subjects like Maths, we’ve been crunching the numbers from the State Examinations Commission to see how the country’s been faring in other subjects.

51,991 – The number of students who took a Maths paper at any level this year. That’s the highest of any subject. 51,455 people took English papers, while 44,397 sat an Irish paper. (1,427 doubled up by taking Applied Maths as well as Maths.)

30,349 – The number of people who took Biology at any level – that’s the highest of any subject outside of the ‘core’ three. Geography came next, with 27,305 candidates. Of the other traditional sciences, 7,677 took Chemistry and 6,516 took Physics. 472 took the join ‘Physics & Chemistry’ course.

26,766 – The number of people who took Leaving Cert French at any level. That’s far higher than any other foreign language – 6,955 took German, 4,004 took Spanish, and 361 took Italian.

32 – The number of students who took Agricultural Economics. That’s the fewest of any subject (though the SEC doesn’t provide data for subjects which have less than 10 people enrolled). All 32 took higher level.

94 – The number who took Latin, the least popular language (again, all of them at Higher Level). 131 took Arabic, 247 Japanese, and 308 Russian.

8,237 - The number of students who took Maths at honours level. In percentage terms, 15.8%, that’s the lowest level of any subject – and that’s the reason why there’s been so much fretting about the mathematical aptitude of our teenagers.

2 - The number of subjects where less than half of students took the higher-level paper. The only one other than Maths to fall below the 50% threshold is Irish, where 32.3% (14,359) of people took the Honours paper.

3 - The number of subjects (excluding those where no data is offered, or where only one level of paper is offered) where over 90 per cent of students took Higher Level papers. Those were Russian (94.5%), Classical Studies (91.2%), and Music (90.8%).

99% - The number of people taking higher level Russian who received an Honours grade (C3 or higher). That’s the highest of any subject. 94.2% of Music candidates took an Honour, compared to 88.3% in Latin, 87.6% in Agricultural Economics, and 87% in Arabic.

83.9% - The number of people taking Honours Irish who received an Honours grade, the highest of the three core subjects. 80.8% of those taking higher level Maths scored a C3 or higher, while 76.7% of honours English candidates took such grades.

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80% – The number of people who received A grades at Russian in various levels. That’s the highest rate of A grades for any subject – and confirms, on the basis of the other stats we’ve looked at, that Russian seems to be the top provider of good grades.

41.5% – The next best rate of A grades in any other subject, coming from Latin. 30% of students taking Arabic got an A grade in it. 27.7% of students taking Applied Maths got an A, the highest of any non-language. 20.5% of students in Accounting scored similarly.

11.5% - Of the three core subjects, Maths had the highest level of students getting an A at various levels, ahead of English on 9.5% and Irish on 7.6%.

4.2% - The number of students who got A grades in Art, the lowest of any subject. 7% got As in Construction Studies, and – surprisingly, given the volume of students who opted for it – only 7.3% got A grades in French, compared to the 11.1% who got an A in German, the subject most ordinarily substituted for it.

7.15% - Of all 32 subjects for which stats are given, Maths had the highest failure rate, with one in 14 failing the subject. Ordinary Maths scored the highest failure rate, where 9.9% of candidates scored an E or lower. 5.2% of the 6,249 students who took the foundation level paper failed Maths, while 3.1% of the higher level candidates fell short.

3 - Three subjects had failure rates above 5 per cent. After Maths, Arabic had a failure rate of 5.3% in Arabic and 5.2% in the joint ‘Physics & Chemistry’ course. Of the other core subjects, Irish had a failure rate of 2.95% while English had a failure rate of 1.02%.

View the full statistical breakdown of this year’s grades (PDF) >

More: Calls for reform of Leaving Cert and third level funding following results >

Read: Does the Leaving Cert really count? >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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