Saturday 18 January 2020

'There was a lot of pressure' - students breathe sigh of relief as first Leaving Cert exam over

Mount Temple Comprehensive Junior Cert pupils Ella Carton and Fia Curley Carberry
Mount Temple Comprehensive Junior Cert pupils Ella Carton and Fia Curley Carberry

After months of preparation, thousands of Leaving Cert students were able to breathe a sigh of relief that they had the first exam - English Paper One - behind them.

Kai Monahan (18), from Balgriffin, spoke to the Herald with classmate Beth Earle (18), from Dunboyne, Co Meath.

While both students from Mount Temple Comprehensive in were relieved their first paper had been completed by 12.30pm, both had major concerns about the psychological impact the Leaving Cert was having on their generation.

"I definitely don't think the Leaving Cert should stay the way it is," Kai said.

"I'm relieved to have this paper out of the way and I feel it went quite well, but there was a lot to put into the paper within the time frame.


"I feel that the Leaving Cert has caused too much stress and anxiety in the student population. There needs to be a reform of the Leaving Cert."

He added, however, that "there was a lot of creative writing and I did enjoy that part of the paper".

Both students said the paper had offered a welcome opportunity to write a journal entry describing leaving Earth.

They felt this was relevant to the climate change issue dominating the news.

"I found the first exam OK, but I'm not thrilled about it - I don't think it went amazingly, but that was to be expected," Beth said.

"My favourite subject is music. I play the flute and hopefully I will study music in Trinity.

"I'm feeling in the middle about the paper. There was a lot of pressure."

Meanwhile, Romeo and Juliet and dystopian novel Noughts & Crosses set the tone for the first Junior Cert paper, which was welcomed by young students.

For children who love creative writing, the chances are they were as happy as the students at Mount Temple after sitting paper one.

The pupils from the school where U2 met as children had completed the paper by 11.30am and, judging by the smiles on their faces, it had been a good exam.

"Paper one was easy. The mocks were harder - it was a nice surprise," said Roisin Nic Gabhann (16).

"The question on Romeo and Juliet was easy, and we were asked to write a complaint letter. I complained about people stealing pens in school, that it was a travesty. I had fun writing that.


"I love English. We had a question on Noughts & Crosses. I said how important it was and wrote about the characters.

"We also had to review a complaint someone had about buses in a newspaper article. I had to write about why it was entertaining and why it was a good article.

"The key thing is to know the quotes you might use.

"I think it helps that I love English - to me, books are like movies."

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