Leaving Certificate journey part 1

'Sibling rivalry, friendship, and blowing off some steam' - Tipperary student battles 'curve balls' on Leaving Cert journey

Rockwell College's Robert Burke takes us on his exam journey in South Tipp Today.

Robert Burke


Robert Burke



'Sibling rivalry, friendship, and blowing off some steam' - Tipperary student battles 'curve balls' on Leaving Cert journey

Rockwell College Leaving Certificate student Robert Burke will feature in South Tipp Today, out December 14.

7:00 - Alarm.

7:01 - Hit snooze.

7:10 - Sigh, rise, melt in the shower.

7:25 - Put porridge in the microwave for three minutes and 30 seconds. Sleep for that time.

7:50 - Wait for lift. Contemplate the necessity of school. List pros and cons of having an education.

Being the youngest is tough. We’re spoilt, babied, adored and all that, but sixth year puts it to the test. All of the expectation, none of the sympathy. While it’s understandable how, both my brother and sister having paved the path before me, the Leaving Cert is old news for my family, they neglect to remember I have not been through this before. While my siblings are moving onto Masters degrees, internships and real, big-person jobs, these exams have not gotten any easier.

8:10 - Arrive in school.

8:20 - Mentally arrive in school.

8:30 - Class begins.

In fact, I believe they have become harder. The fabled ‘new Junior Cert’ is causing ripples in the Leaving Cert, leaving exams geared more towards applying your knowledge rather than regurgitating it. While not trying to take from the achievements of past students (my brother), I believe the Leaving Cert of today requires a different way of thinking than in the past. Take, for example, the ‘Project Maths’ course, aptly named as it seems the debate of its effectiveness to be ongoing. The course requires “joined up thinking” as an unnamed teacher is fond of saying, seeking wordy explanations and linking your answers to both other parts of the course, as well as to the real world.

10:50 - Break time. Eat, chat, recuperate.

11:05 - Power through to lunch.

12:30 - Try to cough at the same time stomach grumbles so nobody notices. Everybody notices.

1:00 - Lunch time, thankfully.

If only I could manage to get my brain to think in the first place, I might start getting somewhere. Resisting procrastination is an ongoing battle - hence why I am writing this article. As the Leaving Cert year goes, it hasn’t gone perfectly for me so far. Subject choice worries, family bereavement, the difficulty of adjusting to three new teachers, I have been thrown a few curve balls.   While disaster is relative, my hurdles have been much shorter when compared with others. What I have discovered, though, is that nothing fosters friendship more than shared experiences, ironically, especially those experiences which we hope to never face. The Leaving Cert is an experience I must endure, however, and to ensure I meet my own expectations as well as my family’s, I better put my head down. Although, I can do so happily knowing that those around me are in the same boat. I’ll keep you up-to-date on how the year goes.

Robert Burke is amongst a group of preschool, primary, secondary and third level students writing for the Student Hub section of South Tipp Today in the run up to Christmas.