Language / Teanga

Subject Choice: A Resource for Guidance Counsellors

The Student Resource Sheet, which is designed as a brief guide to students who are in the process of opting for subjects in the Junior Cycle, accompanies this resource page for Guidance Counsellors. A Parents Resource Sheet, based on that for students, is also available.

Clearly, the range of subjects, both compulsory and optional, will depend on the resources of the school and on the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills. Similarly, the timing of students’ decision making in relation to subjects is largely a matter for schools.

The choice of optional subjects prior to first year is discouraged. While schools have different systems in place to enable students’ subject choices, it is assumed here that students will have had an opportunity to study the optional subjects during first year in order that they may make informed choices following careful consideration. Ideally, this will be with your collaboration and with that of their parents or guardians. It is also assumed that optional subjects are chosen prior to the end of first year.

In the longer term, the development of the Framework for Junior Cycle and of the Junior Cycle Profile of Assessment will have a bearing on the subjects and short courses provided by a school. Further information on this is available on the Department website at:

Part of your role, as guidance counsellor, is to provide information to students, in both group settings and on an individual basis. Your role may also be to collaborate with and to inform your colleagues and school management about the implications of the choices made by students and of the processes in place to facilitate those choices. You may find the resource 'Understanding Your Interests', available for download below, useful. This resource can be used to support student learning regarding their interests and aptitudes. The resource can be applied in a classroom setting by presenting to students for completion, followed by discussion of their choces in small groups.

Understanding Your Interests

Students are encouraged to consult parents and important others, such as the guidance counsellor in considering their options.

In brief, it is proposed that, at the level of the Junior Cycle, the primary consideration in choosing a subject is a student’s liking for that subject.
It is also proposed that, in addition to Irish, English and Mathematics, the ‘safe range’ of subjects in Junior Cycle includes an additional language and Science.

For the Senior Cycle, it is proposed that, in addition to liking a subject, students need to consider the entry requirements for their chosen career or course. It is obvious that such consideration takes time for most students and that much information is required. The NCCA website at is an essential resource for this purpose.

Qualifax  and CareersPortal are also very useful in identifying course entry requirements.

The Career State Inventory – Subject Choices may be useful in identifying students in need of support regarding their subject choices. Students identified using the CSI as being dissatisfied in this regard may particularly benefit from the  resources provided above.

CSI - Subject Choices

NCGE acknowledges the contribution of Colum Layton in the development of this resource page.

The CSI is published by the Florida State University Libraries under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license, allowing any reader to copy and distribute the CSI content without permission of the authors or the Florida State University Libraries, provided that the authors of the content are given proper attribution and that the content is not modified in any way.


Thursday, August 9, 2018
Date for Review: 
Thursday, August 9, 2018

NCGE and Colum Layton

Practice Area: