In the last week I have received calls from students who have just completed their Junior Cert and feel they are being pressured to give up honours maths despite wishing to continue with them. Another student has made up his mind to change to pass maths and his parents’ had some concerns as to whether it was the correct decision to make.
The correct decision as to whether to do pass or honours maths has to be taken with the consideration of several factors that are particular to each individual student. One factor is of course ability, but this can not be judged by the results of the Junior Cert alone. Had they put in the effort for the Junior Cert? Were there difficulties in class? Did they miss classses through illness? Did they just panic on the day of the exam? There could be any number of reasons why a potentially good student could have received a poor grade. There is a further two years to the leaving cert exam in which the student can improve their grades and expertise either on their own or with expert help. I believe that most students can do the honours Leaving Cert if they get the right tuition in time and are prepared to put in the work.
Does the student know what they want to do after the Leaving Cert? If they wish to persue a course or career that has honours maths as an entry requirement then they must decide if they have the ability and if yes, do the honours course. If they know what they want to do and are certain that honours maths is not a requirement, then they have a choice to make. Doing honours maths will for most students involve a lot of time. They need to balance the satisfaction, knowledge or extra points to be gained through achievement on the honours course against the extra study time that could be put into other subjects that might be more important to them in following their choosen path.
If they know for sure that they do not have the ability (see comments above) then the pass option is the sensible option. In this case the sooner the decision is acted on the better so as to avoid wasted stress and effort.
My advice to those students that want to continue with honours maths despite some opposition would be as follows. There are times when you have to look out for yourself. Getting the best education that you can is generally one of these. They should base their decision on what they think is best for themselves and not necessarily what is the most convenient for someone else. If they move to pass now they are unlikely to make it back to the honours stream later. If they do not know what courses or careers they want to follow after Leaving Cert then they will curtail their choices by not doing honours. With two years to go there is plenty of time to give it a try and see how they get on, and if it is not working out after the next year, then they can always change over to the pass stream. They will in fact know a lot sooner than the end of the school year as to whether they will get the grades they want or not. Talk to your parents and your teachers. Do not allow yourself be rushed into moving from one level to another against your will or better judgement.
If you need help get it now. It may not be fair but those who can afford one to one grinds with an experienced tutor can gain an advantage. Where several students at the same level need help there are also advantages to arranging classes catering for a small group of say 3 to 5 students.
Students or parents concerned about the points raised above can call Galway Maths Grinds on 085-1393768 for a free consultation and advice.