Higher vs Ordinary Level Maths

“Should I stay or should I go now?” 🎶

Not sure if you should stay in Higher Level Maths? Let me guide you.

Quick FAQ’s

Is Higher Level Maths Hard?

Yes. It’s the most challenging subject for about 80- 85% of students.

It’s long and intense. There is so much coursework to cover. And it’s getting harder with the introduction of Project Maths 12 years ago. The questions are now more conceptual.

Should I stay in Higher Level Maths?

I’ve no idea. I’ve no idea if it is killing you inside with stress. I’ve no idea if you are spending 2 or 3 times as long on Maths as anything else. I’ve no idea if you have made any progress at all in the last few months in Maths.

If you are reading this, and reading the above questions, then maybe you are in trouble. Maybe you are seeing little progress. Maybe it’s the most stressful thing in the world. Maybe it’s not worth all the anxiety and pressure.

If you are nodding in agreement, then continue reading below. Ordinary Maths might be suitable for you.

Before we begin, here’s a nice video on it👇

Leaving Cert Maths – Pros & Cons

Long Story Short

If Higher Level Maths is not killing you for time and stress….. then stay at it. The 25 extra points are a HUGE bonus to pass up.

Pros of HL Maths

  • College Courses: Some Engineering courses require HL maths for entry and many courses in the UK will look at your Maths scores when you apply.
  • The Bonus Points: No other subject is like it. Maths is a subject that can boost your points return by 25 extra points, just for passing it. It’s powerful when you sit down to see your results and tot up those points….. it’s a huge advantage.

    Maths is the only subject where students get 25 bonus points for a grade H6 and above (40% and above). For example a H6 gets 71 points, whereas an O1 gets just 56 points. Even a H7 grade (30 < 40%) is worth 37 CAO points which is equivalent to an O3 grade. Almost every student, who has aspirations of achieving over 500 points will be doing HL Maths.
  • Helps other subjects: For some students, HL maths may benefit your other subjects e.g. if you are doing physics or applied maths.

Cons of HL Maths

  • Time: The course is so dense. There is so much material to cover. If you get overwhelmed and you are beginning to do long hours of study, HL Maths might be too much to take on. When it starts to impact other subjects, then consider dropping to OL (Ordinary level)
  • Worst subject: Out of all your 6 subjects, if Maths is the worst grade you receive in the LC, then it won’t be counted (The bonus points make no difference here). That’s key. . You DO NOT get the full benefit of the 25 points if Maths is not one of your best 6 scores. Yes you get 25 points but if Maths is your 7th best subject you knock out a higher grade to get the 25. For example if your 6th best grade is a H4 (66 Points) and you get a H6 in Maths (46+25=71 Points), you benefit by 5 points!

How to make your decision?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like doing HL maths?
  • Did you do HL Maths for the Junior Cycle? If ‘Yes’ then i’d suggest you continue it at the Leaving Cert, particularly if you achieved above a 70% mark.
  • 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?
  • How close are we to the exams? Am I likely to drop to OL late in the school year, or even on the day of the exam? Is this a good strategy in terms of my overall workload, and in terms of my final grades?
  • Have I discussed this with my maths teacher, my parents/guardian and my career guidance teacher?

Junior Cycle Maths — Pros & Cons

I’m going to make this really simple for you – Higher Level Maths for the Junior Cycle should be tried by most students.

There is NO RISK to doing Higher Level Maths at the Junior Cycle level. It is a harder curriculum and exam vs the ordinary level Junior Cycle exam, but it is passable. Only 2% of students fail each year. That’s right — 2%.

I’ve been teaching for 12 years now, and I encourage almost all my students to do HL. When students drop to OL, they are hampered at the Leaving Cert as their Maths knowledge base is weak. Even if you do HL for the Junior Cycle, knowing you will be doing Ordinary for the Leaving Cert, you are way better off. It gives you such an advantage at the leaving cert stage.

If there are tears or anxiety levels are through the roof, then OL Maths for the Junior Cycle will suit you. The challenge if higher level should not impact your mental health or self esteem.

Do HL Maths at the Junior Cycle — hear me out 👇

Hope that helps. Our team can help if stuck, just email us for advice. Contact the Breakthrough Maths team here.

T.J – CEO of Breakthrough Maths

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