No doubt about it, I HATED the Leaving Cert. Who didn’t, to be honest? It was two years that were probably some of the hardest, pressure-wise, anybody will come across-159,600 minutes of it to be precise. Many Leaving Cert students during sixth year feel as if the exams are the most important things in their life that they’ll come across. Plainly and simply, they’re not.
I’m writing this article from the happy position of having completed my Leaving Certificate last year and not having to think about sitting English Paper 1 at 9.30 this Wednesday. I thought that the Leaving Cert was the ‘be all and end all’ at points last year as I aimlessly stared at notes hoping by freak chance I could absorb them via osmosis, or any other method which meant I didn’t have to read them.
I actually felt a sense of relief once the exams had actually started, and I doubt if I was the only one. It meant that I could actually feel the beginning of the end, as I was able to delightfully cross one exam after another off the timetable pinned above my table. Once they had finished I was absolutely ecstatic and I thoroughly enjoyed my well-earned holidays.
Results day came around way too quickly I felt, but it also meant I could see if I had gotten enough points to get my first choice that I had put down on the CAO form back in February. After calculating my points, several times, I had gotten my first choice and damn, I was happy. All the work I had put in had been worth it.
I was lucky enough to have gotten my first choice, which was actually my first choice, as is not the case for some people. There were however a handful of people who didn’t get their first choice. After all the work and effort that was put in, not getting your first choice can be hard to stomach at first. However you’re not condemned to work in McDonalds for the rest of your life.
There several out there for students who don’t get their first choice. First off they can take up the next option on their CAO open to them if they want to. However, if that choice was one that was hurriedly put down without any research into it (which is possible) then you may think you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re not.
If you aren’t happy with your results and felt that you had aced your geography exam, but only got a C3, you can get it checked. Be warned the grade can move up BUT also down. So only get a result checked after reviewing it and getting advice from your subject teacher during the time you can view your exam scripts.
There are post-Leaving Cert courses that you can apply to. These can act as another route into your preferred course. It’ll just take you an extra year or two to get there. There are dozens of colleges that offer PLCs or routes into further education. Many of them are affiliated with mainstream colleges like UCD. Depending on how you do during the PLC it can act as the ‘backdoor’ into your course of choice.
This is an option, one which I never even thought of as I was determined to do anything else but the Leaving Certificate the following September, but it isn’t for everybody. If you feel that you should have gotten more points, then go for it and apply to any number of the Colleges of Further Education that offer that possibility. Don’t repeat if you feel that the Leaving Certificate will be easier the second time round, it won’t be, you may just heap more pressure on yourself with that attitude.
To finish I’ll just say, yes the Leaving Certificate is important. However you won’t be a failure at life if you don’t pass it. There is more too life then rote-learning and learning poetry. As long as you feel that you did your best, then that’s all that should matter. College is harder, but also way more fun and well worth the effort.
Good luck to all the sixth years and repeaters who are reading this.