Many maths courses at university may require you to have achieved a specific grade in another subject. Maths degree entry requirements will differ between universities depending on the country that they are in and the demand for a space in the course.
These requirements may also fluctuate to some degree between each academic year, this is because of the change in the amount of students that applied for the course in a given year and the lowest result achieved by a successful applicant.
For a pure mathematics course, students typically need to have achieved a minimum grade of a H5 in the higher level leaving cert maths paper to be accepted in the program.
This is not the case for all courses, although if you wish to study a related field such as applied physics, it is sometimes necessary to have achieved this grade in the higher level leaving cert physics paper.
This is often the case when applying for colleges abroad. In Ireland, we use the CAO points system to enter third-level education. In situations where you are applying for a course in a university abroad, it is likely that they use a different points system to assess the suitability of their candidates.
In these situations, it is more common for the university to request the specific grade that you achieved in some related subjects. For example, you may be required to have passed both the higher level maths paper and applied mathematics paper for some courses, or to have sat both the maths and physics papers. It really depends on what course it is that you want to do.
These are just some considerations if you have finished studying maths at school.
Selecting your subjects
When we talk about the subjects that you need to study for the leaving cert to get into a maths course in a university, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need the subject for a minimum entry requirement to receive a place on the course.
While this is often the case, you might consider choosing maths-related courses as a means of conveying both your interest and passion for the subject.
Students with an interest in mathematics should also consider taking up the applied mathematics, physics, chemistry and accounting subjects as part of the leaving cert program. Each of these courses has elements of mathematics from the leaving cert course as well as some topics that may be unfamiliar.
This is often a clever option for students with strong mathematics skills as they would inherently be selecting to study subjects that they are strong in.
In addition to this students will spend time studying topics that overlap across the different courses, this would subsequently save students a considerable amount of time In their exam preparations.
Personally, I found opting to study accountancy for the leaving cert to be a relatively smooth transition despite not having studied the subject as part of the business course at the junior cert level.
I found that both my skills and interest in maths have helped substantially in studying the subject. It also gave me somewhat of a head start in studying the financial maths topic that features in higher-level leaving cert syllabus.
As you can see, there are certain things that you can employ in your leaving cert preparation that will put you in a better position to maximise your points in the final set of exams.
Opting to take any of these subjects at leaving cert is just one way to differentiate yourself from other candidates who may be applying to the same maths course as you.
It is often good practice to ask yourself what subjects, results and qualifications the other applicants applying for a place in the same course may have. Expressing that you have a genuine interest in the subject is always something that you should be looking to do when drafting your application and cover letter for a mathematics course at university.
What is the most important subject to study?
This may seem obvious, but if you really want to study maths at university maximising your grade in the leaving cert maths exam is certainly the best place to start.
While decorating your application with other subjects and maths-related activities carries significant weight in the eyes of a university, there is no sugar coating a fail grade in the subject which matters most, maths.
Obviously, provided that you have met the maths degree entry requirements, there is nothing that will influence the university’s decision to consider your application like a strong grade in maths. Especially when applying for the top universities in the country.
This is a subject that you should really focus on throughout the two years. Having a strong grade in maths is perhaps the most effective way to differentiate yourself from other candidates and it will certainly draw some attention to your suitability for the course.
Preparing to study maths at university can sure be a challenging task!
What universities should you apply for to study mathematics?
The official CAO application that you will be filling out during your final year at school will allow you to order your choice of maths degree according to your preference.
It is important to allocate an appropriate amount of time into making your decisions as to what maths courses you want to study at university and more importantly what order you will list them. It is important to put the course that you want the most at the top of the list because it will be automatically offered to you if you meet the criteria.
If you do happen to decide that you want your second choice at a later date, it is not so easy to change. You will always be offered your first choice unless you fail to reach the requirements, in which case you will be offered the next choice.
It is easy to get caught up or even just overly optimistic in the points you expect to achieve in the leaving cert exams or in what universities you wish to pursue your education in mathematics.
By selecting the more in-demand or popular maths courses, you may be running the risk of missing out on all of the choices on your CAO application. You certainly aren’t guaranteed to have a smooth sailing exam period.
Like anything in life, there are bound to be some things that are thrown at you that you hadn’t expected. Don’t let your opportunities to study maths suffer because of one grade that wasn't what you expected or if you had an off day during your exams.
It is important to include some safety options in order to ensure that you get a place if anything goes wrong during your exams or if you don't get onto the most exclusive of courses.
Studying maths at university doesn’t necessarily mean studying at the top college or even going straight from secondary school. There is an abundance of alternative avenues you can go down if maths is really something that interests you.
I always recommend students to apply for level 7 maths courses in addition to their university selections. Regardless of whether you think that you will achieve 625 points or not, you don’t know how things are going to go, and having a backup can add a much-needed sense of comfort for students that are preparing for the exams.
After taking a look at the average maths degree jobs salary you will certainly be incentivised to pursue a career in maths regardless of your leaving cert grades. Level 7 or ‘PLC’ courses are a great option or back door for students who wish to study maths in university.
They will also give you a sense of what you can expect from a maths course while giving you a little head start when beginning your university education thereafter. In order to have a chance to progress to a maths course in university, your PLC course must be recognised as a suitable program for entry and you must have achieved the required amount of distinctions throughout your studies.
Find a higher level maths tutor with Superprof
A tutor can provide some much-needed clarity for students in how to study level maths at leaving cert and college level or even with your part-time maths degree. Many tutors have been through the university process themselves and can therefore provide some useful guidance surrounding the subjects that would best suit you and your application.
Superprof is a community that comprises millions of tutors around the world. There is certainly no shortage of higher-level maths tutors available to Irish students looking to maximise their grades. Here you will find high-quality tutors with qualifications from the variety of teaching courses Ireland has.
The service provides students with a degree of flexibility in how they learn. Students are given the opportunity to learn through both ‘in person’ and ‘remote’ options, either in the home of the student or tutor or via webcam.
Many of the tutors on the platform offer their first session free of charge, so why not try it out and kickstart your journey towards a university education in mathematics today!
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