Follow Missy.ie writer, Sophie Coffey, as she navigates the 2020 Leaving Certificate month-by-month. In part 7, Sophie shares Leaving Cert Exam Diary for March – possibly the longest, strangest month we have ever lived!
7 months down, 2 to go (possibly!)
There is an air of redundancy to this countdown. Back when I started these exam diaries in September, I viewed this countdown as the holy grail. It was cemented in my future; an immoveable rock of time and one that would not change. One that I and my fellow sixth years would just keep moving towards. I had no idea what this year would become. Truthfully, I have no idea what is yet to come either. None of us do.
At the beginning of this month Covid-19 was something on my peripheral with my attention on Leaving Cert related subjects. Mock results were traipsing in. They were mostly decent results thankfully, but I would highly recommend that you don’t employ me as your accountant any time soon!
Our only other focus was on oral preparation, meaning my knowledge of the coronavirus extended to how to answer a potential surprise question from an examiner (the Irish translation is “coróinvíreas” in case you are curious).
However, less than two weeks into March all of this changed very quickly. The crisis was becoming a prominent issue and one that meant rumours were circulating through all schools and workplaces in the country. Most students figured that we wouldn’t be returning to school following the long weekend for St Patrick’s day. However, the announcement for all sixth years to go to the concert hall where we received the news of the immediate school closures still came as an unpleasant surprise.
For the first few days of this unexpected work from home period, I worked off my school timetable. I have had to alter this slightly in order to accommodate online classes and certain scheduled pieces of work, but in general this is the easiest way to ensure I am giving equal time to my subjects regardless of personal preference.
It has definitely not been easy though, and I have recently reached the point of madness where I spend fifteen minutes looking for my glasses only to discover that they are on top of my head. Turns out that this isn’t just a thing that happens to grandparents in films but also to 18-year-old Leaving Cert students trying to cling onto the last remnants of their sanity!
It is clear that my brain power needs as much help as it can get right now. Thankfully a combination of sleep, exercise (within my 2km local area of course) and Eskimo 3 Capsules are helping to keep me energised and focused.
The cancellation of the orals and practicals came as less of a surprise but just as much of a shakeup. There was relief at the removal of one block of uncertainty but also frustration at the loss of two years’ hard work and still some confusion as to how this will affect the dreaded bell curve. At the very least, however, a decision was reached. That said if anyone who isn’t attempting to sit their Leaving Cert this year mid pandemic, tries to complain about the injustice of awarding us full marks, I might find myself in one of the courts I’ve learnt about in Business!
Finding a just solution to an unjust situation
As sixth years we are battling our way through this period with the help and support of one another, but our greatest desire is for clarification. The State Exams Commission like most organisations had plenty of contingency plans but when it comes to global pandemics that shut down the country, this understandably is an unprecedented time. There is no right solution, no right answer but as a Leaving Cert student right now I would take any possible response if it provided me with some form of clarity.
Mind your mental health
I do have a request to all those in the same boat. I am sure that amid this pandemic you have been reminded time and time again that the Leaving Cert is irrelevant in the grand scheme. HOWEVER, there is no irrelevance to our feelings. Our emotions are still absolutely valid!
We have been working towards this milestone for two years and been aware of the effect it could have on our future for far longer than that. We are allowed to be upset, to be frustrated and to be worried. A major goal for us has been disrupted. While we recognise that there are other enormous issues to be dealt with and that a solution will be found, that doesn’t mean we have to act unconcerned.
Take the time you need to recognise that your mental health is important and reach out for help if you need it. Missy has a list of helplines if you feel like you need to talk.
Top Tip: Remember to rest and reach out for help when required
Catch up on all of Sophie’s Exam Diaries.