MORE than 2,800 Clare students began their State exams on Wednesday. Nearly 1,400 students; 664 female and 729 male, were registered to sit their Leaving Cert in centres across Clare beginning this week.
A further 67 students, 31 female and 36 male were expected to sit the Leaving Cert Applied here.
The Leaving Cert began with English Paper 1 followed by Home Economics, Scientific and Social studies in the afternoon. For the Junior Cert, English and Communications was taken in the morning followed by Social Education in the afternoon.
Just over 1,400 young people were registered for the Junior Cert exams in Clare, consisting of 714 girls and 687 boys.
In total 60,698 young people are sitting the Junior Cert this week, while 54,933 were doing the Leaving Cert along with 3,042 taking the Leaving Cert Applied exams.
The Leaving Cert Higher Level Paper 1 lasted three hours and included texts on bank robbery, pop music and video games as art forms, and an essay by Seamus Heaney on the influence of the past. It also included composition options on ghosts, mutants, young people’s engagement in current affairs, interesting people, exotic parts of everyday life, uncertainty and the Irish weather.
“It was okay. When I saw Seamus Heaney on it I was a bit worried because I wanted him on Paper 2,” one student told The Clare Champion, referring to the poetry element of the exam which takes place on Thursday afternoon.
“I did text one and it was fairly straightforward and then for the composition I did the short story, so I twisted it to something I already knew,” she added.
Another Ennis student said she was happy with the paper pointing out “you can’t prepare for it but it was good.”
Principal at Seamount College in Kinvara, Maighread Mhic Dhomhnaill, said students there were calm ahead of their first exams.
“We meet the Leaving Certs first thing in the morning and we say a prayer with them and then afterwards we meet with the Junior Certs and we have the same routine every day of the exams so that helps create a calm atmosphere. Then we are there to meet the students when they come out,” she explained.
“We have been advising them to keep calm and reminding them that the hardest part of the work is done. They are not overly stressed because they have worked diligently all the way along. I would say to all students facing into their exams to do the best they can, to stay until the end and to use their time wisely, reading over their paper fully at the end of each exam. Families are playing a big role too and are very supportive and really helping the students in terms of keeping them calm.
“I would say to them when they come out, forget about what you have just done, bank that and prepare for the next exam. With the exam timetable now, most students have a little bit of time between exams which helps them in terms of preparing,” she said.
As exams started, the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has issued a reminder about its annual blog which went live on Wednesday.
“Students from across the country will be blogging throughout the exams, letting us know how they’re finding the exam process, and what they think of the exams themselves,” said ISSU president, Craig Mc Hugh.
“Students in Ireland should take care to relax over the next few weeks and avoid cramming; the most important thing is for them to present what they’ve learned over the course of their studies, not in the night before. As a fifth year student myself, I can only begin to imagine the feelings among exam students, but I’d like to urge all candidates to relax and realise that they are only human and can only do their best,” he said.
ISSU education officer, Joanna Siewiersk wished the students well over the next few weeks.
“Exams can be stressful for many students, but I’d encourage them all to remember that this is their chance to show what they have been learning for the last few years. Ninety-nine percent of the work is already done and everyone really is in the finishing straight now,” she said.
The ISSU will be running a daily exam blog on issu.ie with contributions from students nationwide.
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn wished students luck but reminded them that there is life beyond exams.
“This is a nervous time in households right around the country as our students wait for the State Exams to finally begin. I want to wish all those sitting the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert well in their exams. Hopefully, the hard work and long hours that they have put in over the past months and years will pay off.
“But, it is also worth bearing in mind while the State Exams are an important milestone in a young person’s life, they are not the only one. There are a vast array of opportunities for education, training and to get new skills throughout their lives.”
By Nicola Corless