Dropping to ordinary level while my friends stare at hieroglyphs


EXAM BLOGGER: THE LEAVING Cert is a game of chance – and buckets of effort admittedly. However, a couple of key mental rolls of the dice have mapped out the week for me. To bank on Plath or Kavanagh? To take higher or ordinary maths?

I think a lot of people in my exam hall were wondering on the first day if the hard work would actually be worth it: the charts, facts, quotes, equations – knowledge accumulated over centuries of trial and error, condensed into two years and memorised by our 50,000 heads up to the moment of purging, and then forgotten.

There was tension in the air when we received our booklets, compulsive fiddling and checking and the tapping of fingernails on tables.

Two days after the first exam, I don’t know why I felt so nervous; it’s difficult to study for the first English paper, but I guess it was just the unknown – lacking the certainty that there would be at least one thing I had studied for. The majority of paper one has to come from your head. There’s a lot to compete with in there at the moment.

There was a little room left for creativity, as it turned out. I wrote a letter to the author of Where the World Began, giving her a fictional name and an equally false back story of the rolling landscape that is my back garden, and the country home that I apparently lived in. I decided to write a story on a young character eager to leave home, a first World War coming-of-age story, with as much detail as I could fit on four pages.

I approached paper two with greater confidence. A lot of my friends focused on Plath this year, and I could hear the world grinding to a halt when she didn’t come up. I had flipped a mental coin between Kavanagh and Rich and decided to go with Kavanagh.

When I got up yesterday morning, I wasn’t sure which maths paper I was going to do. I had originally planned on higher level, but I had my doubts. I enjoy maths, but I lacked some of the basic understanding of it, seeing as I stupidly decided to do ordinary level in the Junior Cert despite the fact that I was capable of higher. Staring at the exam papers one last time before the exam, I decided to go for ordinary level, bonus points notwithstanding. While higher maths would look good on my Leaving Cert documents, I decided it was a gamble too far.

With two years of higher level under my belt, ordinary wasn’t too challenging, with an arithmetic question that I hadn’t seen since third year, but I got by. Leaving the exam hall, I was glad I dropped down the level, as three of my higher-level friends sat together, dissecting the paper, wondering what they were meant to do in such and such question, another friend wondering if he’d be getting his course in August after it. It seems to be a mixed bag, with some saying that the paper was fine, others stating that it might as well have been written in hieroglyphs. I guess we’ll have to wait until August to find out for sure.

Off now to empty a little corner of my head to make room for the rest of my life.

College:Ashbourne Community School, Co Meath I wanna be a . . .mechanical engineer