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June 2, 2015

Leaving Cert Blues

Don’t let the unusually dismal weather fool you – now is the season of discontent for our dear Leaving Cert contingent. For you college students out there revelling in your post-study bliss, spare a thought for your younger comrades who are about to sit the most hyped yet inevitably pointless examination of their lives. A recent dance remix of the Irish aural exam sent memories flooding back of the piercing beep and repeated instructions as Gaeilge.

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The memory was more akin to post-traumatic stress than fond nostalgia. Instantly, I was transported back to the summer of 2009, where the sun rose high and spirits remained low. Mine was the year some genius decided to hand out the wrong paper and have us all sit English Paper 2 on a SATURDAY. You know it’s bad when a helpline number is set up in your honour.

Extended naps were taken, brainless TV shows were watched and a kitchen full of snacks was devoured to maintain my spot at procrastination station. Little sticky notes littered my desk, containing 50 pages worth of knowledge on one leaf. The yellow highlighter was savagely abused, forced to illuminate every second line in Biology: Revised Edition. Elaborate dream scenarios were imagined when I would be released into the wild to frolic amongst the other freed slaves.

I can still smell the Rescue Remedy in the air and wistfully gazing out of the open window, before being sharply told to return my eyes to my paper lest I try and cheat off the grass. There were brief sparks of laughter and hope before we remembered the sinking feeling in our gut; the looming day of reckoning. Even the once boisterous night study went downhill once everyone started using the time to actually study. The last straw was when earphones were banned. Apparently, the teachers were unimpressed with the lack of French aural recordings on my i-Pod and the unexplained abundance of Britney classics.

As I was one of the reviled students who finished as early as the 11th of June, I was duly expatriated until the end of the exams when everyone convened to dress in their finery and celebrate over shots of Mickey Finn’s.

The Leaving Cert itself seems like a bizarre system, which rewards short-term memory strength and places little focus on lasting, or indeed, practical education. Who remembers the themes of such Irish poems as Mo Ghile Mear or how to work out a quadratic equation? If I took the exam now, I’d probably fail.

Worry not, students, the end is nigh. In 5 years’ time, no-one will even care what you got and you will struggle to remember. On the plus side, you walk into college exams like a boss. Nothing can faze you after the State Examinations Commission sticks a white hot poker of fear up your bum.

Go n-éirí an t-ádh libh!