Rolling Around Again

tearing hair outAs we approach the end of April, the Leaving Cert 2013 approaches. I can imagine many of you are currently hiding in a corner of your bedroom, books firmly locked away, with a blanket over your head and a torch, thinking “oh my God no, this isn’t happening.” Well maybe you’re not that dramatic, but either way, you’re probably feeling quite nervous now about the whole thing. I know how you feel. This time last year I was completely terrified because it seemed that there was so much I hadn’t studied, and there was so little time to study it.

Have no fear, Leaving Certs. Remember that everything you’ve done up until this point will count in the exam. Even the homework you did last night could help on the day. Even going into school yesterday could help your grade. You never know how it’ll pan out. So if you haven’t done any studying yet, and are now terrified of failure, or you’ve done a lot but feel that there’s so much more to do, then take a deep breath. Remember it’s only an exam, and is not that important. Here are some tips for the last few weeks of studying.

  1. Forget the internet: Probably not great advice, coming from somebody who blogs, but it really will help you a lot. While it’s important for you to feel connected to your friends and family at the moment, you need to remember that going on the internet when you should be studying will only make things harder in the long run. When I did my exams, I got my parents to hide my laptop charger so I couldn’t use it. It worked pretty well. While I still procrastinated, inevitably, it stopped me spending hours perusing the depths of Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Use your notes: If you’re still spending time sifting through massive text books then it’s time to give it a rest. Text books are great, of course, but the truth is that they give way too much information on the key areas, and even more on areas that don’t matter at all. Now might be the time to invest in Less Stress More Success or Revise Wise books. Use these to make key notes, which you can keep in folders. Reading over these key notes every day or two between now and the exams will help you tremendously. Also, take out your copies and read through the notes your teachers gave you. Your teachers may be annoying the hell out of you right now, but they do have degrees in their areas (most of them, at least). Trust their notes, as they probably know what they’re talking about.
  3. Limit late nights and alcohol: While you’re probably used to getting the weekend and going a little bit wild, as they say, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to limit this a little bit coming up to the exams. Alcohol makes you feel lethargic, and a hangover will only encourage you to spend all day lying in bed and eating chocolate and crying about your impending doom. Late nights too will just make you sleep in all day and not get anything important done. When you’re spending Saturday evenings in bed while your friends are out partying, just think of the elusive college parties you’ll go to next September when you do well in your exams.
  4. Have a study space: You may have been avoiding having a set place where you study every day all year, but now is the time to sort this out. Having a set study space will really help you to get your head in order. You can stick notes up all over the walls and sit at a desk chanting Irish phrases into the night if you have to. Remember that an organised space equals an organised head… I sound like my mother…
  5. Relax: Don’t study really late into the night. It won’t help anybody, and will just leave you feeling exhausted and annoyed because you not only don’t have any sleep, you also don’t have any personal time. Put a time limit on when you’re going to finish studying and stick to it, even if it’s going really well. Try to finish by ten, but definitely by eleven. Give yourself some time to unwind before going to sleep or you’ll just have some demented dream about a copybook flying at your head from above.

Best of luck with the exams, Leaving Certs of 2013, and best of luck with the studying.

PS: If there are any Leaving Cert students of this year who would like to write a guest blog about their experiences, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll get back to you. You’d be surprised, but writing about the exams and your studying process can actually help get your head in order and think critically about your study methods.



“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.


English Paper 1

So far, so good. As of 12:20PM today, Leaving Cert students are finished English Paper 1 – I’m sure you’re all glad to be at least halfway to your dream grade in English!

What did everyone think of the paper? Well, when I first got it, I have to say I thought it was a really good paper. The general theme ofMemorywas nice, and the three texts were good. I particularly liked Text 1 and 2. I thought Text 3’s Question A was a little bit wishy-washy. But getting a letter in the Question B of Text 1 was fantastic! And the Mary Robinson speech was definitely a personal highlight (come on, whodoesn’tlove Mary Robinson!)

The essay titles were, in my opinion, quite good too. I went for the old reliable short story – which I actually enjoyed writing. I chose topic 3… “An inferior rock band howling for fame…” From what I heard from other people, most people did option 7. “Write a short story in which a young character is eager to leave home.” I thought the essay titles were very do-able, and I was even tempted (briefly) to write the persuasive speech about the importance of literature.

Despite my own wonderful opinions, a lot of people are saying that the paper was quite tough. According to the Irish Independent, an English teahcer said it “would have stretched them”. The persuasive article, which was the Question B of Text 3, seems to have been an issue for quite a few pupils.

What did you think of the paper? Easy? Difficult? Couldn’t care less? Leave a comment and give me your opinion!