TheJournal.ie

TheJournal.ie has for a long time been one of my favourite news sources on the internet, so it was them that I decided to send my article about the Leaving Cert to. And shock horror, they published it, leading to me feeling rather gleeful. Here’s the link to my latest blog via www.thejournal.ie.

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Exam Blips

Now that the Leaving Cert is over, I’m sure we can all look back on the massive, thundering blunders we made and smile. Well, maybe you can’t just yet, but soon I’m sure…

It’s incredible really how when people are under pressure, their humorous side seems to come right on out. Some of these I found particularly funny. Amongst these exam blunders, many have now become famous. My particular favourite is the student who circled x in response to being asked to find x.

So (providing it’s not too raw) I’d like to hear some of your personal exam blunders. Did you do them by accident, and only realise after leaving the exam hall, or did you have a semi-mental breakdown during the exam, laugh to yourself and say “Ah, what the heck. Taking the piss sounds like fun”.

My own experience of an exam blunder was in Junior Cert actually. I had always hated science, and had little interest in the area. After a night of cramming, I sat the Higher Level paper. I was asked to show how some substance could be made through a diagram – and not having a clue at all what it was, I laughed silently to myself as I drew a person holding up a can with the substance written on it. I still got a C. God knows how…

So give me your own stories in the comments. After all, we need a laugh in this nasty in-between period.

Anxiety Dreams – Am I Alone?

I don’t think I can be the only poor unfortunate soul in the country who has spent the time since the exams ended thinking non-stop about the exams. Unfortunately, this seems to last into the night, and a lot of tossing and turning has plagued my sleeping hours – occasionally my mind drops a nice bombshell like “Oh my God… I failed French…” or “I did such a terrible Leaving Cert!” My mind has basically been tormenting me ever since.

So this leads me to believe that I can’t be alone. It’s a stressful time for all students taking state exams in the country. So what have you dreamed about? Give me an idea in the comments. Maybe we can all laugh about it, and diffuse the tension! Or maybe we can all cry about it and spend the day discussing our failures and insecurities. Either way, I’m sure it will be simply delightful.

So I’ll start the ball rolling. My funniest dream was that I forgot to sit Maths Paper 2. I went into my school to see if anything could be done about it, and I was told that if I wanted I could sit the 2013 Maths exam, as long as I didn’t tell anyone what was on it. I agreed readily, but I didn’t have a clue how to do anything on the paper.

One of my scarier ones was that I was locked in school, waiting for the night to end so I could sit my religion exam. There were a handful of us in the assembly area as a storm raged outside… And then I remembered, when morning came, that I don’t do Religion. I can’t even begin to convey the irritation I felt as I woke up.

So y’all, tell me about your dreams. I really do hope that I’m not alone after this post! Good day 🙂

Summer?!?!

“Summer?!?!” I hear you ask. Yes, to us Leaving Cert survivors, it’s something we never thought we would see again. Through the exam period, it certainly felt like we had died and the Leaving Cert was our eternal punishment. But no, apparently not. By now, the vast majority of students are finished, with the last few exams wrapping up tomorrow. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t on our side (curse you cool temperate oceanic climate!) but there are many things you can do with your time off until the fateful day of the 15th of August.

  1. Have anxiety dreams: Well this one isn’t very fun. And nightmares might be a better term. Since I finished my exams a week ago, I’ve dreamed many things: That the exams were actually just the mocks and I still had to do the Leaving, that I got a B1 in English (a horror story that I fear may come true), and that I forgot to go in for the Maths Paper 2. If you too are having anxiety dreams… Then I wish you a long and fulfilled summer full of torture.
  2. Get a job: OK, easier said than done… Well maybe it’s almost impossible. But if you don’t try to get a job, one thing’s for sure: you won’t get one. So get out and about and give it a go. It’ll be handy to have some spare cash if you’re starting college this coming year.
  3. Jigsaws! Have you seen the weather? Have you heard of sterotypes? Well doing jigsaws is a complete stereotype, but an enjoyable one at that. Go on, give it a go. It’ll be a bit of craic!
  4. Monopoly! Even better! There’s nothing like keeping the old brain ticking over with financial crap… OK, I’m not providing a convincing argument. Let’s move on.
  5. Watch TV: I bet you haven’t done this properly in a while. Now it’s time to catch up on Eastenders, Coronation Street, iCarly, Bear in the Big Blue House and the Teletubbies! Well – I don’t know what you’re into, but I’m sure you can’t wait to catch up on your favourite shows.
  6. Think A LOT about the Leaving Cert: It’s not something you want to do, it’s just something that’s going to happen. You’ll probably find yourself randomely saying aloud “I wonder what I got in Irish…” etc. occasionally. I’d love to say “forget about it for the summer!” but in my experience, that’s much easier said than done.

Other than all of these utterly useless points, please enjoy the next few months. To those of you who finish tomorrow, good luck with your remaining exams. Now seems like a good time to use the old Irish reliable phrase: You’ll be grand. I always love saying that. It requires no justification and it’s totally empty and meaningless. Good day, students.

 

Art History and Appreciation

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Art student who felt slightly bitter going into the exam centre today to do a two and a half hour written exam in Art. You’d swear we didn’t already do a six hour poster exam, a two and a half hour still life drawing exam and an hour life drawing exam. But we had to get over that, and go and write three essays about Irish Art, European Art and Appreciation of Art.

Overall, it’s clear that elements of the paper were quite challenging. I chose question 2 of the Irish Art section about the Sun Disc and the Fibula. It seemed like an easy question, and perhaps it was just me, but I found the phrasing of the question to be quite poor. There were a few other difficult questions, particularly Question 6, which lists seven artists and asks you to talk about two works by them. Despite so many artists being listed, to my disappointment there was no sign of my beloved Jack B Yeats. Oh woe! Woe is me!

Section 2, European Art was managable. I’m sure many students were delighted to see Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci appearing on the paper. I personally died slightly of happiness about Question 13 on Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir, two of my personal favourites. It also allowed room to talk about Edouard Manet or any other Impressionists in the second part of the question.

The Appreciation of Art was quite difficult, in my ever so humble opinion. The vast majority of students were no doubt prepared for the Gallery question, which is usually quite simple – talk about a gallery you visited – but of course, there was a twist on the question. We were asked were galleries central to the appreciation of art because so many works of Art are now available on the internet. We were supposed to take into account a Gallery Visit of our own. It wasn’t a bad question, but I fear many students would have been thrown by it. I certainly was, and there was a bit of bluffing going on.

Luckily, I’m done my exams now. I know. Bizarre, isn’t it? I am now finished the Leaving Cert! Everyone leave comments and tell me your plans for the summer. My first plan is to catch up on the sleep I’ve missed. Good day, pupils. 🙂

French and History

For many students, today was a long and gruelling day, with many having to face both French and History. I was one of these pupils (sad times!)

Let’s start with French. The exam was from 9:30 until 12:00, with a ten minute break before the aural exam began. Overall, I would say that the Higher Level paper was moderately challenging. The first comprehension was quite straight forward and easy to answer, but the second one was quite challenging.

The written passages for Higher Level were better than previous years, with students having to write about reasons for young people to be happy in Ireland today amongst other topics. I quite liked the topics – it’s rare to get a chance to just write entirely about your own opinions in French.

The aural could probably be described as fair… although that doesn’t say much considering the aural at Higher Level is generally quite difficult. The questions certainly weren’t more difficult than previous years though. Overall, the paper wasn’t bad. I think I failed. How did everyone get on with the paper?

And now for History. Ah History, how wonderful you are! What an exam it was. Luckily it was nothing like the fainting, vomiting and mysterious combusion that took place in English Paper 2 – quite the opposite, in fact, as students became aware that the Indian Case Study came up for the Document question. This seemed to be the topic that most people wanted, resulting in gasps of delight through the room.

The Irish History questions were also very good. In the Partiton and Sovereignity section, we were asked to discuss the significance ofthe Eucharistic Congress of 1932 – a question that I would imagine most students did, it being a Case Study. Other questions includedHow did the threat and use of physical force affect Ireland during the period 1912-1923.Overall, it was a good section.

My second option was Northern Ireland – a section that was also very good with a question involving not one, but two case studies on the Coleraine University Controversy and the Apprentice Boys of Derry. We were asked to talk about the significance of the two, quite a nice question in my humble opinion.

Lastly was Europe and the Wider World. This was quite a good section, but I’d say it was a more challenging aspect. Most students probably did Dictatorship and Democracy. Students were asked about the challenges facing France 1920-1945, the characteristics of Stalin’s rule in Russia, to what extent Hitler’s Foreign Policy was responsible for the outbreak of World War 2, and how did Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust affect Europe from 1920-1945.

The questions all had a little bit of a twist, but if students were prepared they shouldn’t have had too much of a problem. I answered on Hitler’s Foreign Policy, it was a nice but also challenging question.

So how do you think it went? Leave a comment! And when do you finish? Good luck everyone 🙂

Irish Paper 2

Today was the lovely and elusive Irish Paper 2, an exam that has also been a little bit daunting because it marks the beginning of a new exam paper.

Overall,  I think the ordinary level paper was quite a fair and nice paper. There were two comprehensions on Evanne Ní Chuilinn and Dáithí Ó hEithir. Luckily for us, they were worth 50 marks each, taking up quite a large portion of the marks of the exam. They were also quite straight forward to answer.

Then came the infamous prós and filiocht – Pros and stories – that we’ve all been dreading. The Pros that came up was Hurlamaboc and Oisin i dTír na nÓg – to non leaving cert students, yes, that is the story that you heard about ten thousand times as a child. I think the questions on Hurlamaboc were challenging, and you would have had to have a good knowledge of the story to be able to answer some of them.The question on Oisin of Tir na nOg was also difficult, and you would have had to had a good standard of Irish for it.

The poetry examined was Geibheann by Caitlin Maude and An Tearrach Thiar by Mairtin O’Direain. I personally found the questions on these quite challenging. We were asked for images, feelings, and whether or not we liked the poem. But if you had a good knowledge of both of these poems (which I didn’t have) then you would have been fine.

I haven’t heard anything about the Higher Level paper yet (they were still doing the exam when I finished) so I’d love to hear from some of you. How did it go for everyone? Are there any poor unfortunates out there who have biology too today? If there are tell us about how it went in the comments.

Good luck everyone, and remember – we’re nearly done now. 🙂