I was suffering seeeerious writers block and a friend of mine recommended I write about my school experience, exams, and how I don’t think that the Leaving Certificate defines you as a person, your intelligence or your capabilities.
If anyone is reading this who isn’t familiar with Irish State Exams, the Leaving Cert is a set of formal examinations in your final year. They consist of the basic minimum of 6 subjects, with the option to carry extra. The route to University in Ireland is archaic, with the grades you achieve providing you with a certain number of points. The amount of points you achieve in turn secures your place in
what you think is your dream course. The maximum number of points you can get is 625, with the highest grade achieved in any given subject being 100 points (with the exception of Maths, which gives you an extra 25 points if you partake in Higher Level). So, basically, to get the maximum number of points, you would have to get the maximum grade achievable in each subject. Standard.
However, the Leaving Certificate (or any final exams) does not define you. It does not define or showcase your intelligence, only a test of your capability to remember vast quantities of information and regurgitate them on paper. Yes, it is an achievement to obtain good grades, but it is not a failure to not meet what your school, or society sees as a “success”. There is a lot of pressure to conform to society’s standards of “intelligence” and have that intelligence reflected in your exams, however school is not for everyone. Everyone’s mind works differently, and everybody’s talents lie in different areas. And it is an achievement in itself to even make it that far in school, I know I struggled to get that far.
The day of my results will probably stick in my mind forever, I had always been an A student in Business Studies and in my exams I didn’t get anywhere near what I expected. This was a heartbreaking moment for me, and I cried and cried. I remember sitting on my bed thinking “Am I stupid?” and my Dad just said simply “It is not the end of the world.” I look back on that day two years ago, and he was right. My world did not end. Nothing ended, except the pressure and stress I felt from school. Now here I am, and a only a small minority of people have ever asked about my results. They are meaningless. The only thing that holds any sort of meaning to me right now is my happiness.
Just think to yourself that it is simply a memory test. Your teachers will tell you this is how to get in to University, and yes it is a route that many take. But there is always a back door into any course you want. There are further education centers all across the country that allow you to participate in the course regardless of Leaving Cert results, they are mostly based on interviews which are suitable for almost everyone. On the other hand, College and University are not for everyone, including me at this moment in time. I tried and tried, but it just wasn’t fitting in to my life. My life meant more at the time of education than just books and exams, it was making me turn into something I did not want to be, my life was not a life at all. And that is okay. I have learned to accept that. There is always time for education, it is not essential or required to attend straight after school. Give yourself a break if you want to. You’re allowed.
This was a shorter blog post, but it is relevant at this time of year when a lot of people I know are sitting exams, and from what I can see, are extremely stressed. This is not a time to be stressed or panicked, just take pride in completing your years in school. That was hard enough for everyone, be happy it is over and you did it. Be proud of yourself.
Thank you for reading,