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Exam Diary: I hope you all had as much fun with English 2 as I did


Dearbháil Clarke

Dearbháil Clarke

Dearbháil Clarke

I've tried to steer clear of my usual tinfoil-hat paranoia, but there's something going on here.

English Paper One was as sweet as can be, and then English Paper Two burbled along and threw everyone's favourite poets at us like confetti.

"What's that? You want a nice character question for the Single Text too? Well, there you go! Good girl yourself for showing up."

I'm sorry to say it, friends, but the Leaving Cert is being too nice this year. Suspiciously nice. Something wicked this way comes. I'm narrowing my eyes at the Irish essay topics personally. Probably some horrendous problems in the maths paper later today too. Or maybe… Maybe the Leaving Cert isn't as horrible as we all thought it would be. Imagine that.

I had stuffed myself to the brim with quotes and opinions and Rescue Remedy by the time I got into my exam hall for English.

Frankly, the only thing I wanted to do was get the ruddy paper finished. Flipping to the poetry section and seeing that the whole gang had decided to turn up gave everyone a burst of energy. I surrounded Ní Chuilleanáin's name with a happy, bubbly cloud, like I was 12 again and she was the celebrity I was crushing over.

I opted for the 'Othello' question on Desdemona and Emilia without hesitation. Emilia is my favourite character for her softness and realism, and I've spent a long time trying to figure out why Desdemona didn't stand up for herself. The answer I gave? The strength of her faith and subservience to Othello. Duh. It's always the man's fault. Even Shakespeare said so.

The comparative question was easy enough to twist into submission. I wrote on whether or not the theme of friendship in my texts was idealistic or realistic. My answer boiled down to: do the friends die or end up horribly unhappy at the end? That's realistic. Do they live happily ever after? Pfft. I don't believe that. That's not how friendship works. I'm glad that 'being a nice, positive person' isn't in the marking scheme for English.

The unseen poem made me quite melancholy when I got to it. It dealt with a man's grief, nostalgia and denial over his father's illness and death. That got me wondering: are cheerful poems not deep and thoughtful enough for analysis? Going by the entire English curriculum, probably not.

Ní Chuilleanáin is a dream because they only ever ask one question about her: "Her work is hard to read. Tell us about that."

The questions on all of the poets seemed to be equally standard discussions. I hope you all had as much fun as I did, creating a beautiful amalgamation of every poetry essay I've ever written with a sprinkle of new ideas on top.

Simple papers or not, the English exams are always taxing.

I find myself exhausted and utterly devoid of creativity afterwards. I am so gladdened by the thought that I'll never have to go through it again.

For all the poor sods doing Higher Level Maths out there: I wish you the best of luck.

I'm moseying on down to Ordinary. I don't know what I am, exactly, but I know I'm certainly not a mathematician.

Dearbháil Clarke is a pupil at Meán Scoil Mhuire in Longford.

Irish Independent