My Leaving Cert diary: ‘Sun or study? For now, there’s only one option’

Callum Doherty says revising is never easy - not least in the middle of a heatwave

Callum Doherty, from Culdaff, a Leaving Cert student at Carndonagh Community School. Photograph: North West Newspix Callum Doherty, from Culdaff, a Leaving Cert student at Carndonagh Community School. Photograph: North West Newspix

Callum Doherty, from Culdaff, a Leaving Cert student at Carndonagh Community School. Photograph: North West Newspix Callum Doherty, from Culdaff, a Leaving Cert student at Carndonagh Community School. Photograph: North West Newspix

 

My nose is scorched red from the heat. It’s a promise of what can be: a summer of sunshine, no more study and no more exams.

Revising isn’t easy at the best of times, so I’ve made sure to squeeze in some time for Gaelic football. Playing sport is a really great way off taking the mind off exam stress and it also means I’m more focused and present when I’m at the desk.

It hasn’t helped that the internet broke down over the past week here in Culdass, on the outskirts of Carndonagh in Co Donegal.

Yes, it has prevented me from being distracted, but it’s also meant that I couldn’t look up past papers. It’s quite slow and patchy where I live, and I really hope it improves over the next few years because high-quality broadband is the only way I can hope to live and work in my own town.

I’m repeating the exams because I didn’t get the points last year. I really want to do well so I don’t feel it’s been a waste of time.

There are six of us repeating the Leaving this year and it has been nice to have them around. That said, it can feel a bit odd; I’m 19 and I’m an adult in a school uniform. I finish up on June 18th with accounting and then it’s off to the US to visit my brother for a few weeks, which I’m so excited about.

Enthusiastic

Of all the exams, I’m most enthusiastic about history. I’m hoping that there will be a lot of questions about Northern Ireland, which is so close to home. The City of Derry is a part of who we are and I love to go there. On one school trip, we explored the Bogside museum to see the nationalist perspective and the Apprentice Boys museum for the unionist view.

I’ve been a bit nervous. I wasn’t panicking, but it feels like this the Leaving Cert has come about really fast this year. Before the first exam, I was awake until about 4am and only got three hours sleep; I just couldn’t settle thinking about what might come up. I’m thankful that I was able to stay focused and concentrate for English paper one.

The paper was a bit of a shock, particularly a question on a poem which was depicted as a cartoon and asked us to write about a poem we studied for paper two and how we would present it in a visual format; it was really unexpected. I couldn’t do it and I was also thrown by a question asking us to compare a book with the film adaptation.

So I wrote the open letter about unwanted advice. My granny told me to eat carrots for good eyesight and, for good luck, to say my prayers and not spill salt. Now I wear glasses and am single – so much for her wise words!