Sunday 25 February 2018

'Everything became drastically real when I saw English Paper 1'

IT'S quite surreal thinking that I have one exam under my belt (and I'm still standing!).

I woke up yesterday and somehow managed to subconsciously convince myself that I had slept through the alarm and had exactly 10 minutes to get up, make myself look presentable and arrive at the exam centre for English Paper 1.

The task made even more impossible by the impressive array of knots my hair had tangled itself into.

I was just about to launch into a full scale panic attack when my phone reassured me that it was in fact only seven o'clock.

An hour later, having avoided any major meltdowns or hair calamities, I arrived downstairs to a mother on the verge of having a nervous breakdown.

Honestly, you would've thought it was her heading into her Leaving Cert.

During the past year, it's become clear that stress and study are a lethal combination that can drive many students towards addiction.

For some, it is coffee, others find comfort in chocolate. For me, it was the equally repulsive and tempting power of Berocca.

So after getting my morning hit and cramming a few last minute inspirational quotes into my head, there was nothing else to delay the inevitable. Showtime.

Everything suddenly became drastically real upon arriving at the exam centre.

The final five minutes ticked by agonisingly slowly, five final minutes before settling into two hours and 50 minutes of pen-chewing, soul-searching and hand cramps.

Just enough time to rally my impressive arsenal of speech-writing techniques and glean some last words of wisdom from our examiner.

The exam itself was a blur of pages upon pages of an almost illegible scrawl that steadily worsened with each paragraph.

To whatever poor soul gets landed with correcting my English paper, you have my sincere apologies and I commend you for taking on such a monumental challenge.

And just like that, English Paper 1 was done. Smiles all around and excited exchanges of comprehending and composing choices indicated an overall satisfaction with the first of the Leaving Cert exams. With the theme of memory, how could it not have?!

I'm just counting my lucky stars it wasn't sport, technology or any other equally offensive topic.

By all accounts, home economics (which is by no means all tea and scones) also went down like a spoonful of sugar, as it were.

The daunting mystery that has perpetually shrouded the doom that is considered to be the Leaving Cert, has been well and truly removed.

A good start really is half the work! Roll on day two, and preferably Seamus Heaney with it...

India McGirr is a pupil at Gorey Community School, Co Wexford

Irish Independent

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