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Leaving Cert exam diary: I wasted half an hour before realising my calculator was in the wrong mode

Exam Diary


Now the Maths exam is over, many of us won't pick up a calculator again

Now the Maths exam is over, many of us won't pick up a calculator again

Now the Maths exam is over, many of us won't pick up a calculator again

Trigonometry is no more. We have made it into week two of the Leaving Cert and, as of yesterday afternoon, thousands of students have finished Maths Paper 2. This is the final time many of us will ever pick up a calculator, I’m sure.

There were mixed reactions, once again, for Paper 2. Most students found it more challenging than Paper 1, with many noting the large number of ‘probability’ questions. Though the paper was generally more trying than the first, there were no stand-out, nightmarish questions.

I found Paper 2 much the same as Paper 1. I noticed a lot of questions relating to distance, speed, and time, which worked in my favour as an Applied Maths student.

The only difference was that I answered fewer questions. However, this is not indicative of the difficulty of the paper or how time-consuming the questions were. I just wasted half an hour desperately attempting to graph a function before realising that my calculator was, in fact, in the wrong mode.

Suffice to say, after two years of higher-level maths classes, I was more than a little disappointed in myself. Degrees and radians will some day be my demise.

Even more concerning than that is my plan to pursue this subject at third level. I may need to do some rethinking in terms of my CAO application!

Next on yesterday’s agenda was Irish Paper 1. I, along with nearly 40pc of all students, opted not to sit the Irish exam this year. This was the lowest take-up for the written exam in any subject.

My decision was largely based on not wanting to do the oral exam back in March. I was, however, basking in the glory of this choice not to sit the exam as others scribbled five-page essays.

Irish Paper 1 consists solely of the aural and the ‘ceapadóireacht’, where students must write an essay, speech, or story based on the given options. Irish Paper 1 is the only exam to which no changes were made this year, due to the small amount of content on the paper.

Although I didn’t sit the exam, I know students must have been over the moon to see a broad question on “the great problems of our time” in the ‘ceapadóireacht’ section.

This allowed candidates to write about Covid-19, a topic which many hoped would appear on the paper. Other options included the Irish language, climate change, and technology. All of these are very general topics that most students would have prepared in class.

Irish Paper 1 seems to have been a doddle. We’ll see what Paper 2 has to bring today.

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I, for one, need to refocus on my biology study. I’ve been spending plenty of time researching what topics I can get away with not learning and not as much time actually studying. This may not have been the best idea.

Wish me luck.


Shona O’Kelly is a Leaving Certificate candidate at Presentation College, Athenry, Co Galway

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