Looking back on the Leaving Cert: One year on
Becca, one of our ReachOut.com ambassadors, gives us her account.
When you’re doing the Leaving, the pressure can feel pretty intense. I did it last year, and I remember the feeling like teachers were constantly telling us we should be studying at least five hours a day – which is, let’s face it, unrealistic for a lot of people. When you’re in sixth year and it’s coming into the summer, all you want to do is celebrate being finished school.
During the time-off between graduating and the exams starting if I felt stressed or worried I would go for a walk or go online for a break. I studied at my own pace and not how I was told to. Everyone learns stuff differently, some people can read over notes for hours and that could work for them but for me I found it easier to write things out or listen to audio tapes.
Things that helped
A few of my friends were doing the exams at the same time as me. We felt the same pressures and worries, so we took time-off together to hang out. Just for an hour or two we forgot about the exams. My Mam was a great support – as much as she wanted me to get great results she didn’t put (much) pressure on me to be studying every second and not have any time to myself. She let me take my time off and do it my own way. One of my friends had done the leaving the year before I did so she helped me a lot, especially with Irish because she had gone to an Irish school from junior infants to sixth year.
Once it started…
Once the exams started it felt like a bit of an anti-climax. For the last two years in school all I heard was that these were the hardest exams I’d ever have to do and it was such a big deal. To be honest though, once I walked into the first exam I felt strangely calm, they were much easier than I expected.
…and when it ended
As weird as it sounds I was upset when the exams were over. I was glad to be done with exams but I missed being in school and seeing all my friends every day.
Words of wisdom
For everyone heading into it tomorrow, I think the best advice is pretty simple. Be on time, don’t get too stressed out and you can only do your best. Remember that nobody is going to expect miracles – if you normally get Cs in tests don’t be killing yourself trying to get an A.
After my exams I started a PLC course in Sallynoggin doing hair and beauty. After a few months I realised that it was a good course but it just wasn’t for me. I felt like such a failure leaving after only a few months, but it was having seriously negative affects on my mental health. After I had been put of college for a few weeks I realised it wasn’t the end of the world to change. I applied to another course more suited to my interests. So don’t worry if what you do next year isn’t exactly what you thought it would be, there are always other options 🙂
Good luck everyone and have an epic summer!