Wednesday 13 December 2017

Exam diary: I left the exam hall fairly exhausted – but happy

Leaving Cert Diarist Laura Gaynor pictured in Strandhill Co. Sligo
Leaving Cert Diarist Laura Gaynor pictured in Strandhill Co. Sligo

Laura Gaynor

WITH a very gratifying (and slightly aggressive) swish of the pen, I crossed out the first of 10 examinations. Happily, yesterday was a bit of an anti-climax. In spite of the Facebook posts and general hype surrounding the exams, it surprised me how normal they were. I signed in at my centre and waited around for my paper. It landed on my desk half an hour later.

As with every year, the exam had a 'theme' to it on which the paper would be based. Past papers had been as random as 'memory', 'mystery' and even 'Irishness'. When I found the theme was as broad as 'storytelling', I was nothing short of relieved.

The paper took the form of a comprehension text, a small writing assignment and a composing question. Most of these were loosely based around the subject of storytelling. Even though there was a good selection of short-story titles, I decided to do an article instead. Owing to the fact that I've been writing them for, (and now the Irish Independent!) I knew it would be a nice comfort zone to opt for. A certain portion of the time was spent looking for chances to use words like 'intrepid' and trying to make it seem effortless.

At 12.30, I left the hall fairly exhausted and walked down to my dad's Volkswagen. All things considered, I was fairly happy with how it went! I took my exam paper from the centre, but I think I'll recycle it rather than hoard it as a Leaving Cert souvenir.

Lucky for me, my exam day finished before lunch. Lots of my friends were in until 4.30 for home economics. From talking to a friend who took home economics, I gathered that the examination was "fair". She mentioned how the questions were quite different from past years. Overall, she gave it a four out of 10.

Me, I closed the curtains and tried to convince myself it wasn't sunny outside. All I wanted to do was to spend the rest of the day at the beach. However, it was not the time.

Despite the benign Paper 1, I needed to spend the rest of the day studying, to arm myself for today's exam. It is none other than the notorious English Paper 2. Every year it promises to break some hearts through the poets it does, or doesn't examine. It has become de rigueur for Leaving Certs to try predicting which poets will appear on Paper 2. However, I promised myself at the start of the year that I wouldn't join in. I'm trying my best to ensure I don't base my study on a hunch. That being said – I really hope that Plath comes up!

Laura Gaynor is a student at Ursuline College, Sligo

Irish Independent

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