‘It’s just prolonged pain’: Students on the postponed Leaving Cert

Five students give their thoughts about the decision to run the exams later in summer

Amy Murray, Kildare

“Postponing the Leaving Cert does not benefit students. We are still in the same boat. Students are going to drastically suffer academically in these exams. And what happens with colleges now? I feel like we are in more uncertainty than we were before this announcement.

I understand it is hard for a system like the Leaving Cert to be changed, but in a situation like this, changes need to be made. Nothing like this has ever happened, so decisions that have never been made need to be made.

A lot of other countries have completely cancelled their exams as they understand we are in a pandemic. It seems that the students’ opinions , interests and welfare were not taken into account.

We've had enough taken from us now. We are missing the last days of school

There are so many cons to this decision. Students are going to stress for an additional two months, students are going to burn out, students who can’t study at home due to many different reasons are going to be at a disadvantage, students are still uncertain.


This also means no summer for sixth-year students. Their very last summer to make memories without having to worry or stress about jobs. We’ve had enough taken from us now. We are missing the last days of school. We are also missing all that goes along with that: graduation, sixth-year pranks, memories to last a lifetime. Now summer too?

Luke Casserly, Longford

I had been campaigning for clarity for the past few weeks, so in a way I’m happy that I know more but I’m also disappointed with the lack of student input. It feels like we haven’t been listened to and our voices don’t matter.

There are still so many uncertainties. How will this affect the CAO? What about students who want to go the Ucas track? People with learning difficulties will be disadvantaged. I think it’s going to have a really bad effect on some students.

I’m feeling a lot of stress. I’m going to have to keep studying for the next two months. Realistically, my summer is now gone. I’ve no graduation, which is something other years have had and really enjoyed.

Accommodation for college, that's going to be another problem. There are going to be so many knock-on consequences of this

Then the likelihood of the CAO going ahead as normal is almost impossible. We don’t know when we’re going to college. We obviously won’t be able to start college at the normal time, because we probably won’t have our results by then. Then when it comes to accommodation for college students, that’s going to be another problem. There are going to be so many knock-on consequences of this.

There could be some students who are happy, but overall students seem to be stressed and disappointed.

Ellen Clare, Kildare

“It’s not the best situation. We have a group chat with about 30 girls in it and we were all bawling our eyes out. Nobody knew what was going to happen, and obviously nobody expected a pandemic, but it’s still uncertain. We don’t have an exact date.

It’s prolonged pain. I’m a studier, and even I can’t study at home. I don’t even have younger siblings distracting me or anything like that, it’s just so hard to study. It’s not an additional two months of studying like some people are saying.

My summer has completely been robbed. How am I supposed to spend a whole summer studying?

I know [Minister for Education] Joe McHugh said we’ll have two weeks in school but two weeks compared to the nine we’re missing is just incomparable.

My summer has completely been robbed. Obviously all of the holidays are cancelled – even if I wasn’t doing my Leaving Cert they would be cancelled – but how am I supposed to spend a whole summer studying? I’m literally studying from September to September almost, without a break.

To make it worse, we have no idea what is going to happen with the CAO. We’re not going to get results until God knows when, so when will we actually be able to start college? We still don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Seán Carey, Longford

“The last week has just been mental. Personally, I’m glad that they’re taking place. I’d prefer to have actually done the exam than to get predicted grades. But there are definitely ups and downs to the decision.

I think this will affect each student differently, and it will depend student to student on how things go. I know from even talking to my friends that some people are happy to have more time to do study or work, while others are just absolutely distraught.

I'm hopeful they will look after us and make sure the CAO all goes according to plan

I’m actually not sure how I feel yet. It’s all happening so fast that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and think everything through. But I think, for me, this was probably the best option.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot going on at the minute. We really are in unprecedented times. I’d imagine for the people working in Government for the past few weeks, it has just been manic. I’m hopeful they will look after us and make sure the CAO all goes according to plan.”

Micah Darcy, Dublin

Initially I was quite shocked and disappointed, because we had the date of the third of June in mind as the end goal – that is what we were working towards. Now we feel as if the process has prolonged the study. An extra eight weeks is quite a long time when you hear it first. You think, Oh God, August, that seems so long away when we were expecting the exams to begin at the beginning of June.

We are effectively flattening the curve for our own study timetables

In saying that, I filled out the Irish Second Level Student Union survey about what we thought was the best provision regarding the State exams. I, like the majority, voted for predictive grades and for the exams to be cancelled, as I thought that was the fairest option. But now, after talking to a few people, especially my parents and my friends, I think we really have to take the most positive approach to it seeing as we really have no control over it. And it is for the wellbeing of our society and keeping everyone healthy.

I was saying to someone that we are effectively flattening the curve for our own study timetables. It’s a race – it’s just a longer race now. So if we have to keep on ploughing through, doing what we were doing, but maybe instead of studying for four hours a day, we will study for half that time because we have more time now to get the revision done and to take a break and to enjoy some of the summer if we can.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times