Should We Let Our Daughter Drop to Ordinary Irish?

    ‘Should we let our daughter drop to Ordinary Irish?’

    I got this question last week.

    My response was simple: why?

    The Dad explained to me that his daughter got her Junior Cert mock result back recently and she only got 35%. She is disappointed and now she wants to drop to Ordinary Irish.

    This girl is bright, smart and very capable.

    She wants to do well and has a good attitude. However, she has consistently struggled with languages.

    In an effort to help her with Irish her parents arranged for her to go to the Gaeltacht last year. However, she still struggles with the language despite her best efforts.

    Now she feels if she drops to Ordinary Irish she will have more time to study other subjects and at least pass the Ordinary Level test.

    I was blunt on the phone: you are looking at this the wrong way.

    This family is asking the wrong question.

    The question they should be really asking is ‘why should she stay in Honours Irish?’

    In other words what does she need honours Irish for?

    For a girl who is only 15-years old this might seem like a big question.

    However, she has floated a few times the prospect of becoming a primary teacher. If that is the case, she will need Higher Irish at Leaving Cert Level.

    Let’s look at this another way.

    Let’s pretend she is sitting the Leaving Cert right now.

    Let’s play the points game.

    She got 35% in her mock. This is a H7 which is worth 37 points. This is now her base point.

    If she persists with Higher Irish and if she can go up by say 15% in June, she will attain a 50% grade. This is a H5 and worth 56 points.

    To get the same number of points at Ordinary Level you need an O1. To score an O1 grade you need 90% or above. This effectively means she has to get 90% of the paper correct. This also means she only has a 10% margin of error.

    Leaving Cert Points System
    Leaving Cert Points System

    What if she has a bad day or she is feeling unwell on that particular day in June?

    Whereas with the Higher Paper she has a 50% margin of error. Even if she gets 50% of the paper ‘wrong’, she still gets the same points as an O1. The chances are she might even get a H4 with a bit of push.

    This is exactly what happened to me when I sat the Leaving Cert.

    At the last minute I nearly dropped to Ordinary Level. I panicked for a moment on exam day.

    I reasoned I wanted more time to study for my Geography exam and thought sitting Ordinary Irish would give me more time to study over the weekend between Paper 1 and Paper 2.

    My friend Marianne convinced me to sit the Higher Paper.

    “You’ve done all the work. Stick with it!”

    In the exam, I gritted my teeth and asked for the pink (higher) paper.

    In the end I got a C1 which is a H4 in today’s money.

    This translated into an extra 10 points on top of what I would have got even with an A in the Ordinary Paper.

    This was also the extra points I needed to get my first choice course which was the B. Comm in UCD.

    I was delighted. Unknowingly, I had played the odds and won.

    So the real question isn’t ‘should I drop from Higher to Ordinary?’

    The real question is how do I teach my child to make good decisions?

    I teach students mental frameworks.

    I guide parents through big decisions with their teens.

    This is what school is really about.

    Learning how to think.

    Learning to solve problems.

    Learning to stack the odds in your favour.

    Learning how to make decisions.

    Learning to ask good questions.

    And surrounding yourself with the right people.

    Go raimh maith agat Marianne.

    Until next time, keep RAYSING THE GAME.

    Ray Langan

    Ray Langan

    I help students and young people go from anxious and overwhelmed to calm and confident (and get better grades than ever before). I show students how to study smarter and learn faster using my unique methods. I am an award winning speaker, coach and therapist and I can help you help your teen to RAYSE THEIR GAME.

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