Missy.ie writer Sophie Coffey has spent the past 8 months documenting her Leaving Cert 2020 experience; who could have predicted it would be end up being cancelled due to Covid-19? In her final Leaving Certificate Diary Sophie reflects on what has happened.
8 months down, none to go!
At the end of each month when it came around to the time to create that month’s exam diary, I was inevitably struck by how quickly the weeks were passing and how close my Leaving Certificate was. As I typed the March and April editions in particular, I could not help but think on each occasion that “this is the weirdest and most bizarre entry in exam history!”. With this final entry, the Leaving Cert 2020 tops anything even my overactive imagination could possibly have created.
I always imagined that typing this ultimate exam diary would be an exuberant occasion of celebration and relief. An infamous year would be completed, and a rite of passage finally achieved. Truthfully, I am still waiting for it to sink in. Loathe though we are to admit it, the Leaving Cert is a huge part of our lives and for the past 8 months it has been our primary focus.
A final farewell like no other
In recent weeks but most notably in recent days, I have been asked how I am feeling and what my thoughts are regarding this new change. Weirdly it is not the cancellation of the Leaving Cert that is my immediate focus. Instead it is the loss of those precious final weeks of secondary school that my friends and I are most dismayed by.
The final term of sixth year involves a jubilant bundle of entertaining activities along with the cherished sixth-year traditions. To have that unexpectedly taken away from us – while trivial in the grand scheme of things – is tough to get our heads around. When we stumbled out of the school building on Thursday March 12th carrying as much of the contents of our lockers as possible, we could never have imagined that would be our final day. Equally as we tugged our uniforms off that evening, we had no idea that we would never put them on again.
Perhaps, this reads as somewhat melodramatic but in truth the abrupt ending to our fourteen years in the education system is an unenviable farewell to our educational journey.
No one could have predicted this
In terms of the actual decision, the swiftness with which it occurred left most of us reeling. Despite frequent lobbying for a predicted grades system to be employed, it seemed that up until Thursday, the government was not viewing it as a viable option. The Department of Education insisted that the written papers would go ahead “by hook or by crook”. In the space of a few hours on Thursday evening, exactly eight weeks since, unbeknownst to us we had completed secondary school, our plans were rocked once more.
“Calculated grades” is a unique and unpractised system but one that in the present circumstance can ill-afford trial and error. My personal preference would have been to sit the exams we have been working towards for two years. However, I recognise that this was not a feasible option given the current crisis and tradition should never be at the expense of health.
The strangest senior cycle in history
I have worked solidly enough for the past two years but like many of us there is a crammer in me that sparks at the final few weeks. During our time as senior cycle students, on the occasions where an exam did not go well or as planned, we reassured one another, asserting “it’s only a small test, it’s June that really matters”. Only now are we cognisant of the irony attached to the words of comfort we have employed for two years.
This wraps up the most eventful sixth year in history and also these exam diaries! Back when the idea for a Leaving Cert exam diary series was first floated no one could have ever envisaged what they would eventually entail. In the years to come when the history books are looking for primary sources, I will be sure to send them here!
To all those who have completed their Leaving Cert, I hope the nostalgia is positive now! And to all who still have it to look forward to, I can only hope you have a more ordinary experience than this year! Most importantly to all those in the same bizarre boat as me, best of luck with the results and future whatever it holds. In years to come it will be our claim to fame that we were the Leaving Cert class who never sat the Leaving Cert!
Catch up on all of Sophie’s Exam Diaries.