Follow Missy.ie writer, Sophie Coffey, as she navigates the 2020 Leaving Certificate month-by-month. In part 8, Sophie shares Leaving Cert Exam Diary for April – possibly the strangest and most stressful month in Leaving Cert history.
8 months down, 3 to go
Slight modification to the countdown all of a sudden!
I started these exam diaries back in September and it felt like I was climbing a mountain to June 3rd. Just when that date seemed a surmountable challenge, it changed, and I now find myself writing this entry with July 29th as my new target. Sixth year was always going to be a tough one and that was before it became a literal twelve-month year!
Rewriting the future
Each month of sixth year has been filled with enough activity to ensure that I am never stuck for content to build each monthly instalment of these exam diaries. The Leaving Cert has been the topic of so many debates and conversations this month that in theory creating this exam diary should have been a walk in the park (wouldn’t we all love a nice trip to the park right about now!).
Truthfully, this exam diary has been the hardest to write by far. The inevitability of the Leaving Cert had been a guaranteed part of my future for a long time now and suddenly it is clouded by commentary and uncertainty in an unsettling manner.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh’s announcement came as less of a shock and more of a grim confirmation. There was never going to be a perfect solution and with the news coming almost a month after we had abruptly finished school, I was just pleased to have a little clarity, even if the big picture is still rather blurry.
Saved by the bell
If I were still in school, I would spend six hours a day in academic classes and then follow it up a couple of times a week with a three-hour session of after school study. There were even times where I would squeeze another hour or so of revision in once I returned home. Admittedly these occasions were few and far in between and usually preceded a challenging test of some sort but they existed nonetheless. Now the idea of spending up to ten hours of my day hunched over a desk seems beyond ludicrous and I find myself questioning how I ever managed it before. Although that view does seem to extend towards the way most of my life was carried out six weeks ago.
I have determined that constantly comparing the previous and present of the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, is doing more harm than good and that applies for more than just the state exams. Our new normal is as abnormal as it gets.
To study or not to study
Some days I can fly through a Hamlet essay with all the grace of Shakespeare himself, follow it up by revising numerous chapters of economics, butcher my native tongue in an attempt to study my filíocht and then finish off my day by flying through a few pages of maths equations.
Other days I count it as a success if my pen meets paper.
These are the most extreme cases and most days I fall somewhere in between. This is probably a good thing considering the months ahead. This was one of my greatest concerns when the new dates broke. Maintaining motivation during what we planned as a relaxing summer of celebration will require a whole new strain of discipline and one I can only hope to master.
TÚS MAITH, LEATH NA HOIBRE (a good start is half the work)
I have discovered that my most productive days always start out well. I am much more likely to achieve my daily goals if I start early and I am sat at my desk by 9am. I tend to get a good bulk of my work done in the morning, but my motivation definitely wanes as the day passes. There is no doubt that the later I begin the more I procrastinate, so my aim for May is to maintain the earlier starts.
This was never how I intended my final weeks of secondary to go but unless someone in their quarantine boredom creates a time machine, there is little to be done. The best thing I can do for now is to push forward with my fellow sixth years as we work to make sure the class of 2020 is still one to be proud of!
Top tip: Do not write a day off just because you have not done what you planned up until that point. The rest of the day can still have an element of productivity even if the morning was anything but.
Catch up on all of Sophie’s Exam Diaries.