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.


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.

Maths Paper 2 and Irish Paper 1

Today was the day that people have been waiting for ever since the bizarre term Project Maths was uttered in the classroom back in fifth year. It always seemed like something elusive and strange, like it didn’t really exist.

The exam happened this morning from 9:30 to 12:00. How was it, you ask? Well (for ordinary level anyway), I’d say it was quite a nice paper. The questions were generally quite clear, and there was nothing very difficult. Nearly everyone I spoke to said it was way better than they had expected.

I think a large part of this reasoning is that we had all expected the questions to be utterly impossible. But they just weren’t. On another note, I still think I failed. But I don’t care anyway, so that’s beside the point.

Irish was from 2:00 until 3:50 or 4:20 depending on your level. Again, I did the ordinary level paper. And what can I say? Well, it was quite clear cut really. I wrote an email about a holiday to Australia and for the scéal I wrote about breaking my ankle during a match (I know, the hilarity!) The aural was very fair too, I think. The questions weren’t particularly difficult, something that a lot of people had worried about after Leaving Cert aural CDs were played for Junior Cert students last week by accident and contingency papers had to be sent out instead.

So overall, today was a good day, although this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I did ordinary level in both of the subjects. Tell me what you thought of today in the comments. I particularly want to hear opinions on the Higher Level Papers.

Good day students, and happy studying 🙂

Geography & Maths Paper 1

Today was a long day for many poor unfortunates as they trudged through the gloomy morning to do Geography and/or Maths Paper 1. No doubt the English paper from yesterday was still weighing on many of your minds – but those thoughts were quickly dispelled when the Geography paper was slapped down on your desk. There’s no room for relaxation when you’ve got the Leaving Cert to worry about.

Overall, I suppose the geography was a fair… paper. A lot of people are calling it fair. Personally, I don’t think it was great. It wasn’t outrageously difficult, but there were certainly some challenging aspects. I felt the questions on Geoecology were quite difficult – at first I was glad to see that that the biome was examined, but it quickly became apparent that the question wasn’t an easy one.

The Regional Geography section was particularly difficult, in my opinion. As this was the area I put the most time into, I expected it to pay off. Unfortunately very little of what I prepared came up.

In conclusion, what can you say about it? It was a Leaving Cert exam. Nobody expected it to be easy. How did you do? Leave a comment and fill me in!

Maths… I took the ordinary paper. Thank God! I felt that it was quite a standard ordinary level paper 1, with not a huge amount of variation from previous years. Some elements were definitely harder than past papers, but some elements were also easier. I think it was a fair paper that gave a lot of room for at least making an attempt. Paper 2 on Monday morning will be the really interesting one, to finally find out what Project Maths is! Despite all of this, I think I failed Paper 1. But you know what? I couldn’t care less!

So how do you think you did today? Are the nerves settling down now that you’re (almost) halfway through?


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. 🙂