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03rd Jun 2015

10 Things… That Definitely Happened During Your Leaving Certificate

Even now... we get chills just thinking about it.

Rebecca McKnight

The bell rings and you forget your own name… not to mind anything else. You have a checklist of all the paraphernalia you need for every exam, you haven’t slept in two weeks with the nerves and your hideous uniform is already stuck to you with the sweat, as the sun is beating down for the first time this year. Welcome to the Leaving Certificate. Here are ten things that most likely happened during your time in the torture seats…


The sun came out

Our little isle gets less than its fair share of sunshine, but if you really want to be guaranteed a nice week on your holidays, book the week of the Leaving Certificate off. We’re all delighted to see it now, but back in your day it was like the gods themselves were playing a cruel joke on your collective year group.


Everyone started praying for you

In hindsight, that’s slightly offensive. At the time, it was quite sweet and funny that your granny and some friends of your mother thought the only way to get you through it was to light a candle and appeal to the saints.


The ‘safe bet’ for English poetry never showed up

Every year the poet that would ‘definitely’ appear on the English paper was whispered in reverent tones around the halls. Just learn everything by Boland, they said. Be grand, they said. On the day, you felt the weight of the room when thirty hearts broke as you all flipped over the page. No Boland.


One of your friends had a complete meltdown

Usually the best student of your entire group, the only one of you pretty much guaranteed to fly through the exams and claim her desired college place. The pressure gets to those girls though, Big time.


There was at least one paper-related drama

Irish 1 delayed by an hour as the papers didn’t arrive on time? An unsolvable equation in Maths Paper 2? It’s the END OF THE WORLD.


You developed a deep loathing for someone you’d never noticed before

Thirty minutes into the exam, their hand goes up and they’re asking for more paper. That happens EVERY day… for two whole weeks. They must suffer.


You developed a deep concern for the people who leaves every exam early

They must be screwed altogether, poor things.


Every paper merited a post-mortem

What did you write for question two? Which three essays did you write? WE HAD TO WRITE THREE?!


The ultimate night out was planned

What would you wear? Where would you go? How would you get in, given that you wouldn’t turn 18 for another nine months? Planning detail level: forensic.


You swore when you finished that no exam could ever be that bad again.

You were right. College is nothing compared to the Leaving Cert. You may even still have nightmares about it. We do.