10 Easiest and Hardest Junior Cert Subjects [2023]

The Junior Cycle is structured in such a way that you are guaranteed to pass if you attempt every question. So, when choosing subjects for the Junior Cycle, the most important thing to consider are your personal interests. This will provide you with a range of career options in the future.

Students typically choose 9 to 13 subjects for the Junior Cycle. Many students choose to opt for some comparatively easier subjects to get the highest results possible. It is also important to choose subjects that align with what yo want to study at the Leaving Cert.

There are many Junior Cert subjects but all subjects are not offered at every school. All students must study Irish (unless for an exemption), English, Maths and History. Depending on your school, there might be other compulsory subjects. English, Irish and Maths are studied at either ordinary or higher levels. All other subjects are studied at common level.

For more clarification, you may read our complete overview of the Junior Cycle

To help you choose your Junior Cycle subjects, in this article we’ll talk about the easiest Junior Cert subjects and the hardest ones. We’ll talk about a few things you should definitely keep in mind while choosing subjects.

Please keep in mind that the Junior Cycle grading system has changed. Till 2019, A grade was achieved by getting 85% and above. But now, to achieve a distinction, a student has to get 90 or above. 

However, let’s take a look at the subjects that got the highest and the lowest grades in the previous years. 

Junior Cert Subjects that Got the Most Distinctions and Higher Merits in 2022

SubjectDistinction (%)SubjectHigher Merit (%)
Classics5.3Wood Technology32.8
Graphics4.6Maths (ordinary)31.1
Maths (Higher)3.6Home Economics29.8
Gaeilge T1(Higher)3.6Italian26.1
Religious Studies3.5Religious Studies25
 Junior Cert Subjects that Got the Most Distinction and Higher Merit in 2022

Even though religious studies has a comparatively lower distinction or higher merit rate, it has higher candidate rate compared to Italian or French. This is why the grades seem a bit lower for religious studies. 

Junior Cert Subjects that Got the Most ‘A’s at Higher Level and Ordinary Level in 2019

SubjectA(%)SubjectA (%)
Ancient Greek48Latin29
Latin 30Religious Education12
Classical Studies22Technical Graphics12
Italian22Art and Craft Design12
Art and Craft Design20Classical Studies 11
Junior Cert Subjects that Got the Most ‘A’s at Higher Level and Ordinary Level in 2019

The new grading system is applicable from 2022. Still, the old result can give you relative insights. 

Junior Cert Subjects that Got the Lowest Grades in 2022 and 2019

Well, the results vary each year. But subjects like mathematics, Italian, and Latin have a constant record of good grades. Also, as stated before, it’s really hard to fail the Junior Certs. As you can see the percentages of not graded are very low. Even getting an E or F grade also has a very low percentage in the Junior Cert.

6 Easiest Junior Cert Subjects

The subjects listed here have not been ranked based on how easy or difficult they are. In fact, that won’t be the right thing to do, as the percentage of students getting distinction or higher merit keeps changing every year. But there are some subjects that most students find easy to tackle. They are:

1. Religious Studies

In 2022, around 3.5% of the candidates got a distinction (90 to 100 points) and around 25% got higher merit (75 to 89 points) in Religious Studies. This subject has one of the highest numbers of candidates, and that’s why the percentage of students achieving distinction or higher merit becomes comparatively lower.

Most students find religious studies to be one of the easiest Junior Cert subjects. It is available both at a higher level and an ordinary level. Religion can be a compulsory subject in some schools, while in others it is not.

2. Home Economics

Home economics can be time-consuming but it is a rather easy subject for most students. Some of the questions can be very straight forward and some of them can be very challenging. Even so, with some effort, it is one of those subjects that can be aced with higher grades.

In 2022, around 2.1% of the candidates got a distinction in home economics but more than 80% of the total candidates achieved a grade between Distinction and Merit. The fail rate is as little as 0.7%.

3. Maths

Maths is one of the most important Junior Cert subjects. Besides being compulsory, it is also one of the easiest subjects according to most students. Maths is available at both higher and ordinary levels. 

Students have achieved pretty decent grades in maths in the past years. In 2022, more than 70% of the candidates got a grade between distinction and merit in higher level and ordinary level maths. In higher-level maths, around 3.6% of the candidates got a distinction and in ordinary-level maths, around 3.3% got a distinction.

At Breakthrough Maths, we helped many students achieve distinction or higher grades in maths. You can join online free classes taught by our 600+ point tutors.

4. Geography

Geography is compulsory in many schools. It is also one of the most interesting and rather easy subjects for most students. It is available at the common level. 

Geography also has one of the highest candidate rates. In 2022, a total of 58,608 students sat for the geography exam. Around 2.5% of the candidates got a distinction in geography in 2022 with around 70% getting between higher merit and merit.

There sure is a lot to learn in geography, but in most cases, a little time and effort can do the magic!

5. Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE)

The Junior Cert CSPE is another easier subject. The course is based on topics like democracy, law, human rights so on and so forth.  60% of the marks are awarded for an action project and the remaining 40% is allotted for the written exam

CSPE is a common-level subject. Getting good grades on the project is sure going to get you a high grade in this subject.

6. Music

Music is another well-demanded subject with no fail rate at all. Students who choose music for Junior Cert might also choose it for leaving cert opting for a career in the subject. In Junior Cert music, students are taught to sing and play an instrument. They are also taught to compose music. 

In 2022, around 6.4% of the candidate got a distinction in music which is higher than most other subjects. And around 70% achieved a grade between higher merit and merit. With 50% marks in the practical segment, music can be really easy to get good grades in. 

4 Hardest Junior Cert Subjects

1. English

Junior Cert English is studied at a higher or ordinary level. So to say, it is one of the hardest subjects. Both in 2022 and 2019, the distinction rate in English was around 2% which is comparatively lower than in other subjects. In 2019 around 25% of the candidates achieved higher merit in English which got down to 19% in 2022. 

2. Irish

Irish is also studied at a higher or ordinary level. It is a compulsory subject unless for an exemption. Irish turns out to be comparatively harder for English medium students.

In 2022, around 2.6% of the candidates achieved a distinction in Irish and around 20% achieved a higher merit in the subject. The rate of failure is also comparatively higher in the Irish. In 2022 around 1.4% of the candidates didn’t receive any grade in Irish. 

3. French

French is one of the hardest subjects both in Junior Cert and Leaving Cert. The listening part is the hardest part of the French exam. 

Even though French is one of the hardest subjects, according to statistics, the grades achieved in this subject are pretty decent. In 2022 around 4.1% received a distinction in French and in 2019 around 11% achieved an A grade in it. 

4. Engineering

Engineering is one of those Junior Cert subjects with a comparatively higher fail rate. In 2022, 2.6% achieved a distinction in engineering and around 3.6% were not graded.

Engineering focuses on measurement, problem-solving, critical thinking, managing information, group work, etc. If you are interested to choose engineering in Leaving Cert or college, then choosing it in Junior Cert might be a good thing to do. 

How to Choose Junior Cert Subjects

The subjects you choose for Junior Cert are going to play a significant role to help you decide your leaving cert subjects and even college courses. According to the Citizen’s Information, English, Irish, maths and history are compulsory subjects. Depending on the school, there might be other compulsory subjects. But other than these, you might choose science, business, or a third language like French or Spanish. 

Here are a few tips to consider while choosing your Junior Cert subjects- 

  • See if you are interested in the subject and willing to choose it in LC
  • You should keep a few options open. For instance, choosing business will allow you to have a range of career options in future
  • You should discuss it with your parents and your teachers
  • Do not choose a subject just because all your friends are choosing it 
  • And finally, do check the previous years’ question papers to see if the topics are of any interest to you


Junior Cert is not easy in any way. It requires a good amount of hard work to get good grades in Junior Cert. There is no easy subject in it. Solving a maths problem will seem very intriguing to a student who likes maths. Anyone who likes history will find it easy to get good grades in it. So, whether or not you will get good grades in a subject is going to depend on your interest and effort. 

Easy or not, you must work hard for the compulsory subjects as they are most likely going to be compulsory in leaving certs too. If you’re good at maths, you can get some bonus points in leaving cert higher maths which can really boost up your grade!

Want to sharpen your maths skills and secure high grades in maths all the way from Junior Cert to Leaving Cert? 

Sign up for Breakthrough Maths, Ireland’s best online maths grinds! At Breakthrough Maths, students get 24/7 grind support, small batches of personalised classes and a guarantee to level up your maths skills. Book a grind and see for yourself!

T.J – CEO of Breakthrough Maths

Need help in Maths? Contact the Breakthrough Maths team here.

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