Saturday 16 December 2017

Exam diary: Saving grace was Joyce, who coined the word quark

WITH a weekend spent revising the physics course and tuning in to the odd World Cup match (in case the fundamental frequency of a vuvuzela was asked), nervousness was an understatement as my last-ever physics exam approached.

Physics and I have had a rocky relationship. The practical side is understandable but the theory is mind-numbing.

I can understand the mechanics part of it, but once it goes into quarks and coulombs it turns into a nemesis lurking around the back of your mind waiting to pounce. It is no wonder that physics has been confined to the '7th subject' and it is was more for dignity than points that I took yesterday's exam.

Sunday was stressful. 'Physics Sunday', as it had been dubbed, was filled with nonstop texts and tweets with physics definitions, formulae and concepts being received and sent.

Entering the hall yesterday, I knew that within three hours our relationship would be over and, in a "sorry physics, it's me not you" sort of way, 12:30 could not come quick enough.

Section A, I thought, great. The experiments I liked were up, my mood was lifted by a lovely question 5 and 12 but then the quarks hit the fan, the momentum stopped suddenly and my inner Einstein was screaming and wanting to leave.

Nasty task

Mechanics was difficult (even though I do applied maths, it was still a nasty task), the Doppler Effect question was doable but long-winded and particle physics was just weird.

My only saving grace was correctly saying James Joyce coined the word quark. At least my English abilities helped me! So with abandoning particle physics I took on the reading comprehension question which, thankfully, guaranteed me more marks than particle physics.

At 12.30 it was time to leave physics behind. Gone were the jokes I have shared over the last two years (how do you change centimetres to metres? Take away the centi).

Thankfully, the accounting blunder did not affect the centres in my school, so at 5pm I checked in with Dean and Cillian to get the reaction to their final exams.

According to most of the students, section C was "disgusting", with a mixture of three different types of management accounts being asked in question 8 and cash budgeting in question 9 instead of the predicted marginal costing, flexible budgeting and production budgeting.

Only one exam left for me and it's all systems go.

The three musketeers of my class (or should I say the three stooges) who are taking applied maths will be meeting over the next few days to revise, practice questions and wonder why on earth we decided to take on an extra subject.

Peadar Ó Lamhna is a student at St Macartan's College, Monaghan

Irish Independent

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