How to get a H1 in the Leaving Cert: A Comprehensive Overview [2023]

H1 in the Leaving Cert denotes the highest distinction in terms of grades in Ireland’s secondary school educational system. In 2017, the Department of Education and Skills introduced a new grading scale for the Leaving Certificate that includes grades like— H1, H2, O1, O2, F1, F2, etc. —where a student at the Higher Level, for instance, who has a score of 90% to 100% will receive an H1 grade and, in effect, 100 points.

If the subject is maths taken at the Higher Level, you’ll get a bonus of 25 points. All universities and institutes of technology have implemented these revised grade versions since 2017.

In this article, we’ll talk about-

  • New grading system at Higher Level
  • Subjects that sees rise in number of H1s awarded
  • Which subjects get the most H1s?
  • Which subjects get the least H1s?
  • How to get a H1 in maths?

Let’s start with the exam itself.

Assessment Levels of Leaving Cert

Specifically, each subject is assessed at one of three levels throughout the exam,

Although Irish and mathematics are the only two subjects that can be chosen at Foundation Level, both the Ordinary and Higher Levels are available for all other subjects. Each level has a percentage that corresponds to eight possible grades. These are: H1–H8, O1–O8, and F1–F8.

New Grading System at Higher Level

The old 14-band grading system was in effect till 2016. It was replaced by the new 8-band grading system in 2017. However, the bonus points system for maths was introduced in 2012. Let’s introduce you to the new 8-band LC grading at Higher Level.

Obtained Marks PercentageGrade at Higher LevelPoints at Higher LevelBonus Points for Maths
90 – 100H110025
80 – 89H28825
70 – 79H37725
60 – 69H46625
50 – 59H55625
40 – 49H64625
30 – 39H7370
0 – 29H800

Thus, the Higher Level grades are divided equally into 8 bands. Securing 90-100% will award you the top grade H1 and, in turn, 100 points. The lowest grade, H8 grade, doesn’t award you any points. Also, you’ll receive an additional bonus of 25 points in Mathematics if you can secure a grade at or over H6.

Subjects that See Rise in Number of H1s Awarded in 2022

If we look at the Leaving Certificate results in 2022, we’ll see that the number of H1 grades awarded in subjects like Irish, Maths, French and German increased from 11.9% in 2017 to 12.7% in 2022. Norma Foley, the minister of education, promised that the class of 2022 would receive grades on par with the record-breaking results, which saw 27% of college applicants receive 500 or more last year, up from 13% prior to the pandemic.

Now let’s look at the percentage of H1s per subject (2022).

Percentage of H1 in Maths

Now we’ll look at the percentage of H1 awarded in Maths over the span of 2019-2022. It’s quite thrilling to see the average proportion of students obtaining H1 points rising year after year. In comparison to 2019, the present proportion in 2022 has nearly tripled.

The following table shows the percentage of students that got the bonus 25 points in Maths in 2021 and 2022. As you can see, almost all of the students got the bonus points.

Note that although 98.3% of those who took the higher level paper received the crucial 25 bonus points, a decrease of a statistically insignificant 0.6% from 2021, the overall percentage of students who secured H1 grades in 2022 increased by 3%.

H1 in English

One of the hardest subjects to get top marks in has always been English, largely because no grading system can fully account for how subjective good or bad writing is. However, it has consistently had one of the lowest rates of Higher-Level failure, which is a plus.

H1 in Irish

Outside of minority languages and music, which tend to draw students who are already reasonably skilled students, Irish has consistently had the most top grades over the past ten years.

H1 in German and French

Language-related courses have seen some of the biggest increases, with top marks in French, the most popular foreign language at the Leaving Cert level.

H1 in Science Subjects

If you see the table below, you’ll see that the percentage of students who got a H1 went up for all the science subjects, apart from Chemistry, which went down a little.

H1 in Geography, Business, History, Latvian

Examiners could be holding fluent speakers to a higher standard as minority language subjects like Dutch, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, and Russian did not record inflated grades. Top marks, however, dropped in Arabic, Dutch, Russian, Hungarian, and Latvian. It was noteworthy how the H1 grades in Latvian had fallen.

Also, Business and Geography also saw an increase in H1 grades, while History saw a slight decrease.

Which Subjects Get the Most H1s?

The table below contains the top 10 subjects that saw the most H1s in 2022, along with their states in the previous 3 years. Note that the ‘n/a’ denotes the years when the subject wasn’t available.

However, if you want a more comprehensive look on the subjects you can easily secure H1 points in versus the subjects that may prove a bit tricky to get good grades in, look at this article.

Which Subjects Get the Least H1s?

The top five subjects with the lowest percentage of students receiving an H1 are listed in the table below. Notice that Physical Education wasn’t available on 2019.

How to Get a H1 in Maths?

Nearly all Irish universities require students to take mathematics as their first course. But Higher-level maths for the Leaving Cert is frequently a subject that causes many students particular anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can earn those additional 25 points with efficient revision and the appropriate materials.

You can either-

  1. Go for self-study
  2. Opt for experts to help you out with your studies

Let’s look at how to handle self-study first.


When you’re going for self-study, here’s a list of things you can do to make it easier for you:

1. Break It Down into Bite Size Pieces

The maths course is vast, so if you don’t break it down into smaller pieces, it could easily become overwhelming.

2. Review Previous Questions

One of the subjects where you should really spend the majority of your time studying and revising the past papers is Maths.

3. Timing

You have 2.5 hours to complete two lengthy questions (worth 50 marks) and four concise questions (worth 30 marks) for each paper. Write your starting time for each question at the top of your page so you can keep track of how much time you’ve spent on it.

Get Help from Expert Tutors

You also have the option to take expert help. Here at BreakThrough Maths, you’ll be tutored by industry-leading teachers who’ll group you by ability and provide personalised small classes. They’ll quickly identify your strong and weak zones and prepare you in a way that’ll quickly make maths one of the most enjoyable subjects. Join our online LC Maths Grinds to know more! If you want, you can also book a free trial grind right away.


1. How Do I Get A H1 In Irish?

It’s a cliche answer: study, study and study. But don’t work hard; work smart. There are lots of techniques that can help you grasp the topics in an efficient manner. If it’s Maths that’s bothering you, you know how we can help you.

2. What Percentage Of Students Get An H1 In Irish?

According to Irish Times, the number of H1 grades given in the subject increased from 11.9% in 2017 to 12.7% in 2022. It’s a minor increase. But still, given that it’s a relatively hard subject, students are doing quite well in it.

3. How Many People Got H1 Maths In 2022?

Mathematics’ top grades have increased from 15.1% in 2021 to 18.1% in 2022. It’s quite a significant increase and a testament that the newly introduced grades system is the modern solution that we need to evaluate capable students.

4. What Is A Good Leaving Cert Score?

Depending on the course, you’ll need a minimum of 400 to a maximum of 625 points. However, 300 Leaving Cert points will be more than enough for you if you want to enrol in Level 6 or 7 courses, complete an apprenticeship, or enrol in a Post Leaving Cert (PLC).


So, H1 in Leaving Cert is the peak of the Irish secondary education system. It sits atop the newly introduced 8-segment grading system. The whole Higher Level grading system, in fact, is helping students secure more marks and encourages them to take more subjects at Higher Level Curriculum.

We hope this article helped answer all your questions, and if you need any more help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

If you want to read more, here’s a comprehensive guide to the whole LC system and a study plan for LC.

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