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Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate

Applied Maths

Career Zone
QQI
NFQ Level
Duration
2 Years

Summary

Applied Maths is the study of the practical applications of mathematics to the real world and physical problems. It is typically associated with engineering and physics, but also finds use in economics, finance, business, environmental studies, and even chemistry and medicine.

Why Study Applied Maths

  • If you are getting A or B grades in Maths and Physics, you should be capable of getting similar grades in Applied Maths, thus enabling you to increase your points in the Leaving Cert.
  • There is overlap between some parts of the Leaving Cert Physics course and the Applied Maths course, such as Linear Motion, Newton’s Laws, and Circular Motion. Thus it will also help you to have a deeper understanding of these topics in Physics.
  • As there is a high maths content in the course, it will also give you a better understanding of some parts of the Honours Maths course – especially Trigonometry, Calculus (Differentiation and Integration) and Vectors. 
  • It is ideal for students who may be weak at other subjects (such as languages), and good at Maths, as they can do honours Applied Maths to increase their points.
  • It is very possible to cover the whole course in one year if a student is committed. Thus if you are starting Leaving Cert year, it is not too late to start.
  • If you are considering studying any kind of engineering in college, Applied Maths is very important – all engineering students have to study Applied Maths in first year in college and you will have a head start if you have the Leaving Cert course done.

What kind of student might Applied Maths suit?

  • This subject comes highly recommended for students considering a career in any area of Engineering, Science, Information Technology, Business, Finance, Architecture or Education. 
  • Students who are studying Leaving Cert higher level Maths. This course also helps students studying physics, due to some overlap in the course content. 
  • Students who need high entry points to get into university. In the last 5 years, on average 1,800 candidates sat the exam at higher level and upwards of one third of students achieved the equivalent of a H1 or H2 grade.
  • Aside from niche languages such as Latin, Russian, and Japanese, this means that Applied Maths has the highest percentage of H1 grades in the Leaving Cert.

Recommendations/Tips

  • A very suitable subject for the student taking higher-level maths and physics. Some students complete the programme as an additional after-school subject, taken in one or two periods per week, over the two years of Senior Cycle.
This subject builds skills and knowledge that are particularly useful for careers in the following Career Sectors:

Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2019:

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 1988 students who sat the Higher Level Applied Maths exam in 2019.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 116 students who sat the Ordinary Level Applied Maths exam in 2019.

 

Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

The Applied Mathematics course at Leaving Certificate is called 'Theoretical Mechanics' or 'Mathematical Physics' in third level courses. It is one of many branches of the more general field of Applied Mathematics.

Course Content

The course essentially covers the mathematics behind the behaviour of objects when placed in various situations, such as being thrown as projectiles, bounced off walls or other objects, immersed in fluids, or swung around on a rope. There are 10 questions on the exam paper, each covering one of these topics in detail. However, the exam only requires the student to complete six questions, so it is not uncommon for teachers to focus on six or seven topics, which makes the course and workload more manageable.

The course tends to avoid theory-heavy questions (such as proofs and manipulating formulae) which are found on the Mathematics paper, instead offering practical problems with numerical solutions, such as computing the volume of fluid in a container, or finding the optimal angle to throw a projectile at so that it will travel as far as possible. As a result, Applied Maths is excellent for developing strong problem solving skills, which are very valuable for future employment. 

 

Exam Structure

There is a separate examination paper for Ordinary level and Higher level:

Ordinary Level Paper

This is a 2.5 hour paper (150 minutes) and carries 300 marks. You are required to answer 6 out of 9 questions and each carry 50 marks.

Higher Level Paper

This is a 2.5 hour paper (150 minutes) and carries 300 marks. You are required to answer 6 out of 10 questions. Each carry 50 marks.

Tip: Allow approx. 25 minutes per question in either paper. If you answer more than six questions, they will all be corrected and you will be given the marks for the best six.

Career Possibilities

Applied Maths is useful for careers such as Engineering, Physics, Construction, IT, Insurance, Systems Analysis and Architecture.

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Science

These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation.

Required for 3rd Level?

Note: Trinity College Dublin (TCD) accepts Applied Maths as a science subject for entry into both the science and pharmacy faculties.

This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Interviews

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Peter LaComber, Consulting Engineer

I chose Physics, Chemistry and Technical Drawing as my optional subjects for the Leaving Certificate with a view to choosing an engineering course at third level.

These subjects certainly helped with first year in college as I had a foundation in those subjects to build on.

In hindsight, I would have chosen Applied Maths over Technical Drawing as the engineering course had a significant Applied Maths content.

Overall, I feel my subject choices were appropriate for my career choice.

... View Full Interview

Karl Stanley, Software Engineer
For my Leaving Cert. I took Maths - higher, Applied Maths - higher,  Physics - higher, Chemistry - higher, Music - higher, English - higher, German - higher, Irish - ordinary As you can see my abilities and interests were more in the maths+science sphere than anything else.

I was very lucky that at the time Mt. Temple had very capable maths+science teachers, which certainly made things easier for me. To be honest, in school I didn't really think about 3rd level or careers or anything until I was in 6th year (by which stage I'd already picked my subjects). I just picked the subjects I enjoyed and felt I had a natural knack for.

For the career I'm in now I don't think I could have picked better school subjects. It might have helped me to know a bit more about business-related subjects, but I had no interest in accountancy or commerce at the time.

I am considering taking an evening course in the legal+financial aspects to running a business to make up for this. However, as a teenager I think I was better off studying subjects that I had a genuine interest in, otherwise I would have found it very hard to motivate myself to study.

... View Full Interview

Lisa Berry, Restaurant Manager

Honestly, I was not all that school focused, I didn't really know what I wanted to do after I finished school.

I completed school in 1994 and most of my courses have been management development courses through the various companies I have worked for.

In hindsight I would have applied myself more in school and once I had realised that I enjoyed management and working with people I should have studied in this field.

I am lucky in that I have the opportunity now to have my work based experience recognised with the course I am doing through McDonald's and NCI that will result in a degree for me in the future.

... View Full Interview

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