Almost 121,000 Junior Cert and Leaving Cert students are due to begin their exams tomorrow  in 5,000 test centres across the country.

The proportion of Leaving Cert students taking on higher level subjects has climbed to a new high.

Among Leaving Cert maths candidates, a record 37 per cent have registered at higher level to sit the more challenging paper, up from about 20 per cent in 2011.

The increase follows the introduction of bonus points for higher level maths in recent years, along with wider changes to the CAO points system.

There are also increases in the proportion of students who have applied to sit higher level exams in the Leaving Cert for many other subjects.

For example, just over half of students have opted for higher level Irish for the first time, while almost three-quarters of those sitting English have opted to take on the more challenging paper.

Official figures compiled by the State Examinations Commission show a total of just under 55,770 are due to sit the Leaving Cert, a figure similar to last year.

The numbers taking the Leaving Cert applied programme are continuing to drop, with 2,744 students due to take it this year.

At Junior Cert level, almost 62,000 students are due to sit the exam, a similar figure to last year.

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