Leaving Cert diary: ‘More time, more choice, more change please’

Changes brought in due to pandemic show how bad previous system was, says Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh from Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times.

Aoife Walsh from Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times.


Exam diary

More time, more choice. Those have been the phrases of this year’s Leaving Cert following the changes brought in as a result of the pandemic.

Before the announcement was made about the changes to the format, we’d been used to writing answers out by hand in as quick a time as possible.

Having the same amount of time but fewer questions to answer has made such a difference. In my maths exam, I was able to concentrate, look over my answers and not feel so rushed.

I couldn’t imagine having to do the exams the way they used to be. There will never be a time in your life where you need to learn so much information and write it out in such a tight time period. I think it’s shown how bad the previous system was and I don’t think it would be fair to go back to it.

That said, the class of 2021 has endured a lot. The first lockdown was the worst. We went from in-class learning to everything being online, with the teachers and students going through a steep learning curve and not everyone having great broadband to do our work.

Unable to see friends

We didn’t know when schools would be open again and we missed a lot of learning while, at the same time, we weren’t able to see our friends. It was fair to do the exams differently this year.

I was happy walking out of Irish paper two because we had more time and more choice. I answered one reading comprehension and then focused on the poem Géibheann, which I’d been hoping would show up.

I was very happy with biology. I liked the questions that came up and I finished up early, which gave me time to do an additional long question as a back up. I really liked the genetics question.

I’ve two exams left, French and physics. I’m hoping for something topical on the French paper, and I’ve a week before physics. I’m glad to have that break; it will give me time to study – and to catch my breath.

  • Aoife Walsh is a Leaving Cert student at Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny.