Physics Leaving Certificate entrants 2001–2018

Leaving Certficate Entrants 2018


What does this data show?

The number of entrants taking Leaving Certificate physics in 2018 is 7535. This represents a 0.7% fall in the number of students taking the subject compared to 2017. The number of entrants to Leaving Certificate physics has fluctuated during the 2010 – 2018 period, but the 2018 cohort is 16.9% larger than 2010.

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The proportion of all entrants taking Leaving Certificate physics in 2018 was 13.2%. This was 0.2% higher than in 2017. The proportion of entrants sitting physics (at either Higher or Ordinary level) had risen every year between 2011 and 2016, after falling every year between 2004 and 2011 (from a high of 14.8% in 2003). The proportion of entrants taking physics between 2001 and 2018 has fluctuated between 11.4% and 14.8% - with an average proportion of 13.1%.

The pattern in physics entries over the past 15 years has been relatively similar to chemistry. The number of chemistry entrants dropped by 301 in 2018 to 9167 after peaking in 2017 at 9468. Entries to chemistry still represent 16% of total Leaving certificate entries, dropping by 0.2% on 2017. The average proportion of chemistry entrants between 2001 and 2018 is 13.5%.

The picture is very different in biology and mathematics. In 2018, 33549 entrants took Leaving Certificate biology, making up 58.7% of the total entrants. Biology has had a consistently higher proportion (and number) of entrants than either physics or chemistry – and this has ranged from 37.7% in 2002 to 58.8% in 2015. This is down in part to a combination of the fact that there are more teachers qualified to teach biology, and common careers advice to students to include at least one science subject. The average proportion of biology entrants between 2001 and 2018 is 49.9% and grew every year between 2002 and 2015.

In maths, 53391 entrants took the subject in 2018, representing 93.4% of all entrants. The proportion (and number) of maths entrants has remained largely stable since 2001, ranging between 90.3% and 93.4%, with an average of 91.4%. Maths is essentially a compulsory subject in Ireland, as a pass is required by most universities in Ireland as a prerequisite of entry.

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