14 Days Left: Leaving School

14 days… I feel sick. Utterly ill. Gross. The stress is mounting like there’s no tomorrow, and the days are whizzing by in a cruel fashion.

But we have other things to worry about, don’t we? For at least a day or two, we can put the Leaving Cert on hold and focus on finishing classes. It’s emotional and bizarre at the same time. Or is it just me who thinks this? How could this have happened? I remember my first day of first year. It never seemed like I would reach the end of it all in such a short space of time. Yet, here we are. Tomorrow is the last day I will spend with my entire year group in school.

I can imagine that a lot of you have mixed feelings. There’s the absolute euphoria to start with. That feeling of… Wow. I’m nearly an adult – practically a grown up. Soon I’ll be going to college, moving on with my life. And then there’s the “I’m not ready for all of this…” that I think most people have a little bit of at this time of year. Leaving school isn’t all fun and games. It means an ending, but also a new beginning. It means the Leaving Cert is officially on the doorstep. In a few months, people across the country will put on a brave face as they walk into a room in a college with nobody they know. And they’ll think back to secondary school, just a few months ago, and wish they were back there.

The whole thing is bizarre really. We all have to make sure we don’t forget about our studying, while also enjoying ourselves with our year group for the last time until the Debs. So everyone…

Have a nice grad mass. Enjoy whatever celebrations your class are doing. Don’t take this time for granted. You’ll always remember it. It’s a bigger deal than you can ever imagine.

And thank your teachers! The good ones, I mean. If you got on with them, just say thanks. It doesn’t hurt, and nobody can call you a teacher’s pet, as your done now anyway. Anyway, it’s time I studied. Good luck folks.


15 Days Left: Procrastination

15 days… Yuck. Absolutely yuck. What the hell? Why? And most importantly, how? I blame the Government for this catastrophe! Well, OK, I don’t. But the time is rapidly whittling away, and it’s getting more daunting by the day to face those books. Here are some ways to avoid procrastination:

  1. Hide/Turn Off/Break Your Computer: Alright – maybe avoid the latter. But seriously, you should probably do something with your computer. Ask somebody to hide your laptop charger, or unplug it and ask someone to hide the plug. I’m going to get my sister to hide my laptop charger once I’m done writing this, because… well, the internet is the most distracting thing ever. In fact, if the internet had been invented in Hamlet’s time, he would never have killed Claudius. And I mean never.
  2. Turn off the Television: I know! It’s painful. It is for me too. While it seems so much more appealing to lie on the sofa like a vegetable watching re-runs of Friends all day, you really can’t do that at this time of year. 15 days! Hello! This is a more difficult one to solve, but you should tell your parents or brothers and sisters to simply not allow you to watch it. Let them use violence if they have to.
  3. Throw Your Mobile Phone Out the Window: Do it. Not only is it liberating, it will also rid you of the temptation to quickly check your Facebook, or find out who texted you. You don’thaveto throw it out the window, but you can at least just put it somewhere out of reach, and check it every half an hour.
  4. Turn off Katy Perry/Rihanna: Unfortunately this kind of music isn’t really good at encouraging studying. Especially if it’s on the radio, it’s going to distract you listening to DJ’s rambling about this competition and that celebrity. So I’m afraid… you should turn it off. Try listening to something that’s more like background music, something that doesn’t require a lot of attention.

And at the end of another blog post, I wish you all the best of luck with avoiding procrastination. Now it’s time I studied!


Graham Norton’s Mum Said It All

I just read a nice article about Graham Norton making a return visit to his old secondary school, Bandon Grammar School in Cork. While he was there, he recounted his old Leaving Cert nerves. It’s nice to know that even celebrities like him were once in the same boat as us eejits are in now. In the article, it’s revealed that his mother (who sounds like an ingenious woman, I think she should become a guest blogger here!) gave him some great advice:

“Graham you can only do your best. Do it.”

Graham’s mother said it all. That’s all you can do at the end of the day. There will of course be a few people who get about nineteen A1’s – and that’s great for them. They did their best. Everyone’sbestmeans something different.

So you’ve got two weeks left to study. So do your best. Do as much study as you can, and you will surely do your best. Enjoy the studying!

16 Days Left: Chillax Yourself!

Those two digits are simultaneously terrifying and disgusting. 16 days? In September it seemed like years – maybe decades – until we would have to sit the Leaving Cert. Despite that, it has descended on us. So here’s a few tips about chillaxing yourselves. Contrary to popular belief, it’s just as imporant to stay relaxed as it is to study incessantly.

  1. Take Regular Breaks: This is very important. If you sit for hours at a time looking at your books, the facts are, at some point, facts are going to stop going in. Take a five minute break every thirty minutes, and every few hours take about twenty minutes. That’s where most of the chillaxing comes in.
  2. Don’t Forget about Your Pastimes: This one’s really important. If you like to read, make sure you read. If you like sports, make sure you play sports, and if you like films, make sure you watch films. It’s very important that you don’t forget about your hobbies. They’re your main way of chillaxing.
  3. Don’t Forget about Your Friends! Your friends are very important for you right now. They’re all going through the same pressure and annoyance’s of exam season. Talk to them about normal things. Go out to the pub every now and again, just make sure that you don’t drink too much or stay out too late, as that would affect your studying!
  4. Chillax With Your Family: Don’t forget about the main people who are supporting you at the moment! If you’ve got older brothers and sisters they’re been through the Leaving Cert, and understand the stress of it. Make sure that you hang out with them every now and again, just watching television or anything else that they do in their spare time. The last thing you need is to find yourself missing out on family life.
  5. Balance: This is the key to the whole thing. At the end of the day, if you have balance, you can remain sane and happy, whilst also learning a lot of things for your exams. Remember that you can’t put life on the shelf  for the Leaving Cert.

So best of luck with maintaining balance! Happy studying. 🙂


Project Maths – What do you think?

I’d say if you’re a Leaving Cert student, you’ve heard a lot about Project Maths from your Maths teacher by now, that probably went something like this:

“I hate this Project Maths…”

“This is the Department’s fault now for introducing Project Maths!”

“And so you see students, Project Maths did indeed cause the Holocaust.”

Well OK, maybe your teachers weren’t quite that dramatic, but from what I can gather most teachers don’t like the new course that’s supposed to be more about teaching us practical skills for Maths that we can use in life.

My own opinion is that, while it was all a very nice thought, it wasn’t exactly executed very well, was it? It seems to me that there are a few dreamers in the Department. It’s all good and well to come up with a heap of new things, but they seem to have organised the whole thing really badly. They’ve decided to introduce it in stages so that we still have the old paper 1 and the new paper 2. I can’t see the point in that personally – if they’re going to introduce a new system, just introduce it, and stop making us learn two different courses from two different books. Come on people!

And ultimately, I think all of their lovely dreams behind this new course have failed slightly anyway. They seem to hope that we’ll spend more time playing with dice and playing cards in class than doing questions, which would be the case, if they hadn’t crammed so much into the course so that we barely have time to cover it all anyway.

Another problem is that, a few weeks to the exam, we haven’t really got a clue what to expect. Anything on the entire course could come up, which is certainly making things more difficult for us.

So what do the students think? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion. I mean, I could be biased, seeing as I hate Maths with every ounce of passion in my body. Happy studying, folks. 🙂

17 Days Left – Study Tips

Yes, I hate to say it. 17 days are left until the Leaving Cert. Right now, we should be studying. But there are a lot of things we should be doing, however the internet is far more interesting. Plus if you’re reading this at least you’re thinking about the Leaving Cert – that makes it OK.

So today, I suppose we should focus on study tips for the exams. Studying is the most important thing for us right now, as the days rapidly disappear. So here’s today’s tips:

  1. Don’t Over-do It! Seriously, don’t. I think this is one of the most important things leading up to the Leaving Cert. We’re all under a lot of pressure, and the last thing we need is to fall asleep in class next week from exhaustion. Last week I made this mistake, for the first time in my life. I studied until 12:30 every night for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday I couldn’t face it, and on Friday, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Just be careful guys. It’s important that you have energy and motivation. Don’t study past eleven o’clock at night at the very latest, and make sure you’re getting 8-9 hours sleep a night.
  2. Eat Well: Yeah, OK – I accept that this one is just a little bit irritating. When I’m studying, I’m the first one to eat spoonfulls of chocolate spread and have 18 cups of coffee, but I do notice that it impairs my studying immediately. It’s very hard to concentrate when all you’ve eaten all day is 6 chocolate bars. Just vary it – make sure you’re eating proper food. And if you survive on coffee like me, I’d say just watch your intake. It can make you feel more stressed and jittery than normal, and we’ve got enough of thatat this time of year.
  3. Make a Study Timetable: A lot of people say this method doesn’t work for them – and if you don’t like it, then don’t bother trying it again. Everyone has a different way of studying. But for me, a study timetable has been my saviour this year. Most of us are finished up classes this week, so I’d say it could be a good idea to plan your studying for the week off and make sure you’re doing equal work in all your subjects. I always tend to focus on my favourite subjects, which a study timetable helps me to avoid.
  4. If you’re feeling REALLY stressed, take a break: This is one I’ve learned from experience. There’s no point in sitting at your desk, looking at geographical facts and thinking about tearing your hair out at the same time. If you’ve reached extreme stress, which sometimes ends with crying and professions of “I’m going to fail everything”, then just take a few hours – maybe even a day – off. Go for a walk, a run, a jog. Read a book, watch a film, hang out with your friends. Despite what we think, the Leaving Cert isn’t the most important thing in the world. It’s also important to make sure that you’re not on the verge of breakdown before the exams.
  5. If you haven’t done any work yet… Then that’s absolutely fine. There’s no point dwelling on the past, and you’ve still got a few weeks to get your work done. Focus on key topics. Don’t trawl through textbooks trying to write out chapters at this stage. Buy flashcards and revision books. Write key notes and read through them as frequently as you can. You’ll be fine! Good luck.

Best of luck everyone with the studying. Remember, that 17 days leaves room for a lot of work to be done!

English Predictions

I’ve never been known for my future telling abilities, but there are at least some observations that can be made about the English papers that we’ll be sitting in a few short weeks. However, the one important thing to remember is to be very careful about predictions – nobody will ever be able to predict exactly what’ll come up. These are just a guide to help you, not a guide to instruct you.

Unfortunately, first and foremost, there is very little that can be predicted about English Paper 1. There’s a different general theme every year, which we can be anything under the sun. The three texts can’t be predicted in any way. The Question B’s are usually something to do with writing letters, or writing speech’s, or diaries, but I’d say be prepared for it all. Know where your strengths lie before the exam, but don’t just focus on one form of writing. Have a few up your sleeve in case the one you’re good at doesn’t come up! And lastly, for the composing section, which is worth the most marks, the only preparation you can do is to know what area you’ll write in beforehand. Don’t make up your mind what kind of essay you’ll write on the day, that’s bad planning, and bad planning means bad grades. You still have time to make your mind up on these things!

Paper 2, on the other hand, is easier to predict, however it isn’t particularly simple either. For the single text, most students will probably be studying Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We’ve been told in school to focus on women in the play (Gertrude and Ophelia) and themes like revenge and corruption. If you’ve got the Mentor Notes, they can be very helpful to read through the themes. But be careful and don’t rote learn off answers. This is never a good idea, because the examiner will often know if you’re not engaging with the question. I’d say also make notes on all the characters and try and know as much about them as possible. A question on a single character is always a nice question to do. Make sure you know the play inside out. Know the key scenes – what happened in the Nunnery Scene, the Prayer Scene, etc. Know about Hamlet’s soliloquies too.

The Comparitive Study is easier to predict. Last year Theme or Issue came up. That is, of course, supposed to be the easiest section to do. Because it came up last year, it’s unlikely to come up this year, but yet again, be very careful. Don’t leave it out, because it wouldn’t be the first time it came up two years in a row. Have it prepared, but I’d say have General Vision and Viewpoint and Literary Genre prepared in most detail. And if Theme or Issue does come up, then don’t just automatically write about friendship. Bear in mind that about 90% of students will write about this theme. Yours will stand out if you write about, say isolation instead.

The Unseen Poetry is utterly unpredictable. There are observations we can make about the Prescribed Poetry section, luckily. There are eight poets on the course: Eavan Boland, Robert Frost, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Kinsella, Philip Larkin and Sylvia Plath. I haven’t studied Kinsella and Larkin personally, which is unfortunate as both are likely to come up. Sylvia Plath is also very likely, as she hasn’t come up for a few years. Seamus Heaney is I think the most likely to appear on the paper. The liklihood is that Boland and Frost are not going to come up as they both came up last year. Rich and Kavanagh are unlikely, but it’s important to study them in detail too, as it wouldn’t be the first time an unexpected poet came up. So in conclusion to that, I’d say be fully prepared for the following: Kinsella, Larkin, Plath, Kavanagh, Rich, and Heaney.

Good luck with the English papers everyone!