My Leaving Cert: Fiachna Ó Braonáin

‘The exam system is outdated – continuous assessment would be much more valuable’

Fiachna Ó Braonáin: “I got 5 As and a C. It was 28 points back then.” Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

What is your most vivid Leaving Cert memory? Running on the nervous energy caused by a combination of copious coffee cups and very little sleep for a few weeks.

Who was your most influential teacher and why? I don't recall any standout teacher really. Happily they were all very encouraging. Except my maths and chemistry teacher . . . I just couldn't follow and keep up!

What was your most difficult subject? Maths and chemistry.

How many points did you get in the Leaving? I got 5 As and a C . . . whatever that is in today's money! It was 28 points back then.


Did your results affect your future career? Not really. I didn't study music academically at all, but it was a hugely important extra- curricular activity, and the encouragement received in that context was pivotal, I'm sure.

Do you think examinations today are easier than they used to be? I suspect it's much the same, based on my older kids' experiences.

Is the Leaving Cert exam fit for purpose given the demands of the modern workplace? I think the exam system is outdated and that incorporating more systems of continuous assessment would be much more valuable and constructive in guiding our school-leavers.

What subject – if any – would you add to the Leaving Cert that wasn't on the curriculum when you sat it? Philosophy, as well as computers and technology.

What advice do you have for Leaving Cert candidates?

Just do the best you can. That’s all that you can do and if you enter into the examinations knowing that’s the case, you’re on a winner no matter what.

Fiachna Ó Braonáin is a broadcaster, musician and member of the Hot House Flowers. He sat his Leaving Cert in 1984 and went on to study law at UCD, before taking a leave of absence to pursue a career in music.