A PALPABLE sigh of relief was heard across Ireland today as Nehru and Gandhi chose to miss the Leaving Cert History exam.
INSTEAD, they sent over Tshombe and Mobutu to the document-based question. But that's about the only positive thing that could be said about the paper. As one of my favourite subjects, I felt the first twinge of worry it might all go pear-shaped.
After an almost indecently cruel mock paper, I approached this exam with impending dread. And boy, did it live up to it.
The Pursuit of Sovereignty question left me completely at a loss. I saw the word 'Anglo-Irish' and began planning all the elements of the treaty-signing before noticing the question specified after the signing.
I'm not sure if this was a sneaky way of asking about the War of Independence, but the entire paper had a nasty 'catch you out' feel to it.
The last thing a Leaving Cert student wants to do is have to sit with increasing panic when they don't see any key words or clear topics.
Eventually I had to skip that question completely (thus losing the A1 I had hoped for) and instead salvage what was left.
For the American section many students had been banking on the Moon landing as a topic; the death of Neil Armstrong last summer left students hoping to see it there. It didn't come up, oddly, considering it's a case study.
But it wasn't all horrendous and I'm sure most went for the first question on race relations.
I chose the argument for the successes and shortcomings of Presidents Truman and Johnson. My two favourite presidents, I was able to amalgamate both essays.
The US economy question left everyone shaking their heads – the impact of multi-national corporations, the military-industrial complex and international competition from Japan and Europe. Did the history paper get mixed up in the business department?
The Northern Ireland section was odd. Brian Faulkner's strength and weaknesses as a leader, as well as the impact Loyalist and Republican terrorist attacks had on the North. John Hume, widely expected to come up, was a no-show.
I chose the first question, how developments in education, housing and health affected the North. I focused on education and discussed the Coleraine University controversy.
However, as always, timing is such a massive issue for history students.
With a 45-minute deadline for what should be a five-page essay, students are often left scrambling for points and facts with little plan time.
I was also left scribbling away until the last moment and I had skipped an entire essay.
Hopefully the Research Study Report, worth 20pc, will bring grades up overall, because that paper sure won't.