As we all know, it’s the worst year of your life. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. So much is wrong with the Irish examination system you could write a book about it; irrelevant course content, excessive emphasis on memory and retention of facts, predictability of papers, almost complete lack of projects or team work, I could go on.
But one aspect in particular that annoys me a lot is how much coverage it gets in popular culture, The Leaving Cert has become way too much a part of Irish culture in my opinion. Everyone’s kind of got a little bit of interest in the exams because they’ve been around for so long and they’re sort of a rite of passage now. “I remember back in 19-whatever, when we did our Leaving, blah blah blah”. The problem with this is that it increases the pressure on students doing the exams massively. It’s bad enough having to deliver on two years work in a three-week period that will determine your academic future without all the added attention.
I did my LC in 2012 and every time I met a relative or any adult that year basically the conversation turned towards the exams in June aka the absolute last thing I wanted to talk about. The media have an absolute field day with it. There will be articles in the newspapers about the controversial question in Maths Paper 2, or how many students ran out of time in Irish.
University is so different. You have exams at the end of each semester and they’re a stress but you just get on with it. No one is hounding you about them. Relatives just ask “How were your exams?” and you go “Grand” and as long as you pass, that’s the end of that because they usually don’t know anything about GPAs, etc. But everybody understands the LC points system so they keep digging for information.
In mid-August, you are assigned a tally of points that is supposed to represent your intelligence, and everyone in your life knows it. It’s a joke. In fairness to the Junior Cert is moving over to continuous assessment now which hopefully will be implemented for the Leaving as well eventually. The less of a news event or talking point the exams are, the better for the students.