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Student diary: ‘It feels like it’s all about how much you can write and how fast’

Leah Hawes has been feeling the strain of the exams, but has a chance to draw breath with a break between papers

Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh Leaving Cert student Leah Hawes. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

I’m hoping to get into PE teaching with Irish at the University of Limerick. Last year, applicants needed 500 points to get onto the course, so I’ve really felt the pressure. I’ve been in the library non-stop: the atmosphere is really conducive to study and I can’t be distracted by my phone.

I work on an iPad at the library and in school. I know there’s a big debate raging about whether we learn better through screens or traditional textbooks but, personally, the screen is much better for me. I’ve been typing up my essays on the iPad for English and French and then highlighting the parts I need.

Of course, we don’t have the option of typing up our answers in the Leaving Cert. It really does feel like it’s about how much you can write and how fast, particularly in areas like Irish and English.

Being in a Gaelscoil, people always assume that we will all get a H1 in Irish. This isn’t the case at all.

Yes, people will do well, and most of us will get somewhere between a H1 and H3 because we have a good grasp of the language, but it’s still marked on a curve so we can’t all get top marks.

The exams have gone well so far, although I wasn’t delighted with a comparative question on English paper two, and the general consensus was that the listening comprehension on the French exam was really hard, with parts that nobody could catch.

Chemistry and politics & society are my last two exams. With a good stretch between the papers, I’ll be focusing hard on these subjects for the next 12 days.

It’s not all study, of course. I have taken time out to watch Clare vs Limerick in the hurling. As a Clare woman in school in Limerick, it can be tough, but my first loyalty is definitely to Clare!

And today I took a break and binge watched the new Black Mirrors on Netflix: the first episode was the best.

The exams finish on June 25th and the next day, I’m off to Magaluf for the Leaving Cert holiday. I’ve got a job lined up for the summer after that and then: who knows? Life comes at you.

Leah Hawes is a Leaving Cert student at Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh

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