Testing times as North Wicklow students start Leaving Certificate exams
Exam time in Bray
Young adults in Bray have been focussing all of their energies on their exams over the past week, with the Leaving Cert the last challenge in their secondary school career.
On the second afternoon of this year's leaving, many of them were in school preparing ahead of English Paper Two, most keeping their fingers crossed that Plath would come up.
'I'm just one exam in at this stage,' said Jordan Smith at St Kilian's Community School. 'English Paper One went well, but you never know. Hopefully the composing went well for me, that's a 100 marker.'
He was a little nervous about the next paper. 'I'm panicking now for paper two this afternoon because we don't know what poet's coming up.'
Dylan Bermingham had engineering earlier on Thursday morning. 'It wasn't too bad,' he said. 'You're guaranteed that some stuff will come up, and you have 50 per cent done already from the project and the practical. So your mind is a bit more at rest having so much of it finished.'
He wasn't alone in hoping that Plath would come up on the afternoon English paper.
Jason King had also done the engineering paper. 'It was pretty good,' said Jason. 'It's one of my stronger subjects so I'm hoping for a good grade in it. Pretty much all my CAO options are related to engineering so I'll hopefully go on to do that.'
He was cool, calm and collected about the afternoon exam. 'Well there's nothing more I can do now! I have to just go in and do what I can.'
Kerry Kane was happy with English Paper One, and hoping the poets she likes would come up in paper two. Geography was one of the subjects she was looking forward to. 'We've done our projects for that,' she said. 'It's a good way to work, doing coursework throughout the two years - it's a bit much having just one big exam at the end,' said Kerry. 'It's a lot of pressure, whereas with the likes of languages you've done your orals so there's that little bit of stress lifted off.' She said that she felt the pressure mounting at the start of sixth year. 'But I've gotten used to it now.'
Luke Windsor had completed engineering on Thursday morning, and English Paper One the previous day. 'They were both fairly nice papers in terms of the questions that came up,' he said. 'Paper one is a nice way to start the exams - it's not as stressful, you don't have to know everything. 'It's the poets that will get me in the end. In terms of Shakespeare I'm grand, and comparative is grand.' He is confident about Design and Communications Graphics, with a project worth 40 per cent already done, and a little nervous about Physics which can be very intensive.
Max Cwiertniak took a punt, which we now know was successful, and studied only Plath for the poetry section of English Paper Two.
'It only makes sense for her to come up!' said Max, an hour or so before the start of the exam. 'I said global warming would come up in paper one and it did. Plath is coming up! Especially with all the talk about depression and anxiety for the last two years... if they don't bring her up they're missing out. And so am I. You have to take risks,' he said. Max hopes to do sport and science management at WIT.
Music runs in Amber Kenna's family, and while it's one of her best subjects, she would prefer to go on to study nursing.
'I've been getting on well so far,' said Amber. 'I'm more at east than what the teachers really make it out to be.
'I had English Paper One yesterday and was happy with it. I'm hoping for a good poet and a good Macbeth question today. I've been doing after school study so trying to do as much as I can.
'With this afternoon, it's the fear of the unknown. But when I get in there and have a look through I'll be grand. I'll stay in for the whole duration too - after all those years there's no rush.'
'The Leaving Cert is stressful but I think we're all kind of prepared,' said Heather Barker at Loreto. She said that while you might feel as though you know nothing, once you go into the exam and start writing you realise 'it's there at the back of your head'.
Heather felt prepared for that afternoon's English exam. I haven't looked as much at some things like Macbeth and looked a lot at others, but I think it will be fine,' she said.
Art is Sarah Byrne's best subject, and the majority of the work was already done. 'It's generally the art history that brings people down so it's a bit nerve-racking.' On how she had done in her first exam, Sarah said 'it definitely could have been worse'.
Susie Armstrong was looking after her notes on Bishop. 'We're all praying that either her or Plath will come up,' she said.
'I do like English. It's a really fascinating subject. It can be hard but it's nice that it's their art and we're learning from their perspective.'
'I'm not worried at all,' said Grace Brown, who is 'taking it as it comes'.
'No-one's going to know you for points, they're going to know you for the person that you are,' said Grace. 'I know what I know and I'm relaxed about it. Geography would be my best subject, I love geography and have 20 per cent of it done already.'
'I'm getting on well, I just wish I had more sleep!' said Moreblessing Chigwedere. 'There's so much anticipation and waiting for it to be over that you don't sleep all that well. I'll be so happy when it's finished.'
For next yea, she's been looking into politics, philosophy and sociology. 'That's what I'm really interested in. But I still have 13 days after to decide.'
Mahaam Rashid said she was as prepared as she could be for the second English paper.
'There's not much more you can learn in one day so we'll just do our best. Biology and Economics I'd be more confident about. Economics is my last exam and I've 8 days between them to study. Then I can't wait to enjoy the summer.' She would like to study law and politics or history and politics in UCD.
Leah Poveda has been doing a lot better than she expected. 'I was really worried yesterday when I first sat down. Now it just feels like any other exam, it feels like 4th or 5th year exams. This day next week I'll be done and looking forward to that,' said Leah.
'I wasn't confident about Home-Ec up until I did the paper. I was going to drop and I'm glad I did the higher.
'There was a practical element also - cooking four dishes. That was worth 20 per cent so that's in the bag anyway. Leah would like to go on to study midwifery in DIT.
Ava Condaudap said that English Paper One was manageable. 'It was quite a general collection of comprehensions, it wasn't really focusing on anything that's topical necessarily so I thought it was easy to tackle straight on. English Paper Two should be a bit harder but hopefully the poets we want will come up. I've focussed on Bishop, Plath and Kennelly, they're my favourite three.'
'I think the anticipation for the exams is so much worse than the actual exams, once you get started,' said Beth Callaly.
'Yesterday's English paper was nice and a good way to start the exams.
'The essay titles were really nice. I'm hoping Kennelly comes up today. I love biology and economics and I'm looking forward to those.'
Emma Stubbs said that the Home-Ec exam was difficult. 'They kind of changed the layout of some of the questions so it was a bit tough. I'm worried about French but everything else should be fine.
Aoife Stack said that with both English and Home-Ec on the first day, students definitely needed the two-hour break for the recovery of sore writing hands.
'You have to know the material for this exam so I've been studying,' she said.
Lauren Hannon said that English is her favourite subject and she thinks she did well on the first paper.
She hasn't been stressed over the past couple of years, and was looking forward to maths.
'I'm excited to get it over and done with now,' said Niamh Byrne.
'I was nervous but it was better when I got started . Business is my favourite subject and would be one of my choices for next year.'
Grainne Dowling was happy to have two exams done already, the first English paper and Home-Ec.
'Home-Ec was probably my favourite even though yesterday's paper was quite difficult. I'm a little bit nervous about the Irish papers. It is probably one of my favourite subjects but it can just be very hard.'