Leaving Cert diary: ‘It felt more like a class test than a major State exam’

Covid safety measures mean students are in small classes instead of crowded exam halls

Ava O’Shea from Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton / The Irish Times

Ava O’Shea from Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton / The Irish Times

 

Ava O’Shea

This last week has dragged out. Since we sat our last in-school exams as part of the accredited grades process, it has felt like we should be finished. But we’ve only just begun.

This morning, instead of a big exam hall like the Junior Cert, we were split into smaller classes for Covid safety reasons. It made it feel a little more like a class test than a major State exam, and it was certainly very different to what I could have imagined at the start of fifth year in 2019.

English was the first exam. I wrote a speech on stereotyping and focused on how younger and older people perceive each other. I definitely think there was stereotyping during the Covid-19 pandemic: young people were supposedly at parties and spreading the virus, but most of us were making sacrifices and staying at home. My class was studying. But there were plenty of middle-aged and older people having parties and meeting up.

I also tackled the question on Chadwick Boseman, the actor who died last year. Boseman had given a speech to Howard University about how he was stereotyped in his acting career, and how standing up for himself may have cost him some roles, so I was able to connect my speech to his.

Home economics was a different story.

Everyone expected carbohydrates to come up, and they’d been talking about it on TikTok. I opened the paper and there was … iron.

It was a surprise but I was lucky, because I’d just looked at iron before the exam.

Question one was tough too, as there was a pie chart instead of a table.

But overall I was happy with it, and as I walked out of home economics I thought how grateful I was that our English and home economics teachers had prepared us so well.

Ava O’Shea is a Leaving Cert student at Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny