EducationAsk Brian

My son is choosing his Leaving Cert subjects, but has no idea what he wants to do after school

There’s no point selecting a subject you don’t enjoy in the hope it might increase your CAO points

My son in transition year is currently selecting his subjects for the Leaving Cert in 2026. He has no idea what direction to take after he leaves school, but we don’t want him to close any options at this stage.

Leaving Cert subject choice presents a series of challenges for students which, if managed effectively, will help keep open all his options in the summer of 2026.

Most schools administer a combined interest and aptitude test to all transition-year students which aim to indicate their strengths and interests.

In my own practice as a guidance counsellor, for example, I administered “Eirquest” tests which incorporate interest and aptitude, and indicated the subjects that aligned with each student’s highest interest areas.


Over a lifetime of working in this field I have observed one simple fact: students’ career interests tend to gravitate towards their highest aptitude scores.

I recommend that students select the subjects they enjoy studying most. Given the multiplicity of career progression options now open to students, it makes no sense to commit two years of their lives to selecting a subject they do not enjoy on the basis that it might increase their CAO points score marginally.

All students study English, Irish and maths as a given, unless exempted from the study of Irish, and the vast majority choose to study (or are obliged by their school timetable) to study a foreign language. This, in effect, gives your son three other optional subjects to select.

In terms of not excluding himself from any future course options he is interested in, your son should consult the subject choice module on the Qualifax website ( It offers a list of degree courses offered by Irish third-level institutions which require an applicant to present with a specified grade in a specific subject or from a group of subjects as a condition of entry. Very quickly you’ll see the types of courses that carry subject requirements.

Obviously, your son will have the opportunity to discuss his optional subject choices with both the teachers who teach those subjects in his school and his guidance counsellor who will be able to interpret the results of any interest or aptitude tests he may have taken in recent months.

But, given that four core subjects are predetermined in most schools, the best advice I can offer any student, allowing for college entry requirements, is to go with your gut. Study subjects you have enjoyed in the junior cycle or during taster options during transition year.