Exam diary: ‘I read up on wheat; there was a full question on cheese’

Ciara Kilbane on her first Leaving Cert day: home economics and English paper one

‘Irish Times’ Leaving Cert diarist Ciara Kilbane. “The first day of the exams wasn’t too rough.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

‘Irish Times’ Leaving Cert diarist Ciara Kilbane. “The first day of the exams wasn’t too rough.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Listen to your mother. Especially when she is talking to you about cheese.

My mum is a former home economics teacher and she warned me that I needed to prepare for a question on cheese. So obviously I ignored her and read up on wheat instead.

Listen to your mother: there was, of course, a full question on cheese. Home economics is my favourite subject and I’m hoping to go on to work as a food entrepreneur, so this was a big one for me.

Overall, I was happy with the paper, because I was able to answer the other questions.

For me, it has all been building up to the home economics paper; it is a really relevant, practical subject that gives you really great life skills. In a way, I’m almost sad it is over. Wait: I said almost!

The first day of the exams wasn’t too rough. I’m not the world’s biggest worrier and I don’t tend to get worked up – at least, that is, until the night before. The night before, a bit of worry set in but, like snow in June, it didn’t stick.

Then this morning before the English exam, I was expecting the fear to smack me in the face, but it didn’t. It is only after the exam that I start to worry and to overanalyse everything I wrote.

Personal essay

I enjoyed the English exam. Paper one is a good way to kick off as it’s focused on personal writing, doesn’t take a lot of preparation and is not about learning off facts by rote.

I wrote my personal essay on insights and revelations that I have experienced in my life and how, when I was in fifth class, my dad and my brother took glee in telling me that Santa didn’t exist.

The following Christmas, which wasn’t all about the presents, was the loneliest I had ever had. But then, wonderfully, I finally discovered the joy of Christmas and how there is more to it than just presents.

Up next, English paper two. And next month: a trip to a music festival near Barcelona with my friends and time by the pool in Madrid. I hope to come back to a course offer in GMIT. But I’ll get through this lot first.

In conversation with Peter McGuire

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