My Subjects

For my leaving cert, I’m doing seven subjects. Seven methods of torture, seven ways to make me feel like I’m dying inside, however you’d like to describe it. I was doing eight, but I had a bit of a meltdown the last day, which I’ll get to after I’ve had a little rant about each method of torture.

English
English is definitely one of my favourite subjects. I love writing, and I’m also very interested in poetry. Dickinson is my favourite poet on the course and I’d be over the moon if she came up in June! I’ve always loved English, and although it’s not my best subject it’s one that I work very hard on and enjoy. My back-up plan if I don’t get any Midwifery course on my CAO is English, I’d love to go into Journalism. I’m yet to get my mock back (tomorrow, hopefully!) and I’m hoping and praying that I get a B2 in the actual exams.

Irish
Where do I even start with Irish? Hate is not a strong enough word for this subject. I’m just so bad at it! The problem is, I don’t even know where I’m going wrong, my grammar and everything is just a huge mess. Basically I’m learning essays and answers on the stories and poems off by heart and hoping that I have enough information to get me a B3 in June. I’ve been getting grinds since September and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be able to do honours Irish without them, my teacher is just brilliant! I haven’t got this mock back either, and quite frankly, I don’t think I want it back.

Maths
Ohhhhhh God. Maths is by far my worst subject, I can’t get my head around it at all. It’s my only ordinary level subject, yet I still have to put as much effort into it as I do with any of my higher level subjects just to pass the damn thing, which is such a pain when I won’t be using it for points. All I want is to pass it in June, and I was so happy with my D2 in the mocks considering the high fail rates! Fingers crossed it’ll go just as well in the exams.

French
I don’t even know how I feel about French to be honest. I love the subject, but I just seem to be very bad at foreign languages. I had absolute goons of teachers for second and third year, which didn’t help matters at all. I was really surprised with my mock result. I got a C1, which is also my aim for my actual leaving cert! I’ve been working extremely hard for French, and I guess it’s paying off, I’m just afraid that I won’t do so well in June because there were a couple of hints dropped in relation to the paper. You know the drill, “Now make sure ye pay special attention to this topic!”

Biology
I really like Biology. I find it interesting, especially the chapters that include the likes of pregnancy (I think that’s the only part I’ll ever get full marks on!) and all things midwifey. My only problem with biology is that I missed a lot of time off school last year so I missed a lot of the course, but I’ve been working hard and catching up on it all this year and so far so good. It’s also one of those subjects that’s pretty easy to predict, and I’m using my predictions to focus on the more important chapters. I got a C2 in the mock and I’m aiming for a B3 in June!

Home Ec
I love Home Ec! I find it so easy to learn and a lot of it is common sense. The fact that you can choose to leave out certain chapters such as consumer studies is also pretty handy, giving you more time to focus on other chapters. This is by far the easiest subject to predict, and I was bang on with the mock predictions. I got a B3 in the mocks, and I’m aiming for a B1 in June. This is the subject I praise myself for choosing!

Geography
I do like Geography a lot, but there’s quite a shit load to learn. Contrary to belief, Geography is not an easy subject. I want an A2 in it, and I figured out that I have to learn 78 essays by June for that to be possible. Yep, 78. I’m almost half way through and I don’t see it as a daunting task really because I like the subject, but for somebody who struggles to learn the answers this would be hell. The Exam Skills Geography book has pretty much been my savior, my bible, whatevs trevs. If I get my A2, that will definitely be why!

LCVP
If any of you follow my leaving cert account on Twitter, you’ll know that I despised of LCVP. Well, I had my portfolio finished, when the teachers decided to spring it up on us that our interviews were in a week. A WEEK! As you can probably imagine, my anxiety was through the roof because of this, so I decided to drop LCVP. Best thing I ever done, two more study classes a week to get those geography essays learned in!

If I could pick my subjects again, I do think I’d change it around a bit. I wouldn’t have done LCVP from the start, and would have done construction or engineering instead of French. I don’t even need it for midwifery, and kick myself every day for picking it!

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Study Tips

So there’s a little less than 13 weeks until my exams start now, and it’s starting to stress me out quite a bit. I know there’s no point in stressing, because I’m doing all that I can, but of course it’s only natural to feel this way. Here are some of my tips on getting through the next few weeks with your sanity in tact!
Know exactly what you want. Honestly I think what’s helped me in studying the most is knowing exactly what I need out of each subject. It gives you something to work towards and ensures that you spend the right amount of time on your topics. For me, I want a B2 in English, a B3 in Irish, a D3 in ordinary level maths, a C1 in French, an A2 in Geography, a B1 in Home Ec and a B3 in Biology. When you first add up what you need, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty daunting! But as the weeks go by and you get better and better at your subjects, it becomes more achievable and you start to feel a lot more optomistic. You might be finding it hard to achieve that B3 in Irish, but if you are, step up your game to get 1 grade higher in Biology instead!
Do NOT get hung up over your mocks. I’ve seen people absolutely devestated over their mock results, and I know it’s tough when you don’t get the result you’re working towards, but you need to remember that THEY’RE ONLY A TEST RUN! It would be ridiculous to expect to get your ideal points in the mocks, especially if they’re high. We don’t even have the full course covered in a lot of subjects, let alone revised! You could have been studying Geography since September, and be half way through revising the course, but have been completely unlucky in the mocks because nothing you studied came up. So is that an accurate reflection of how you’ll do in the real exams? No it is not! By then you’ll have a lot more topics covered and you’re gonna do a lot better. Remember that an average student goes up 10% in each subject from their mocks, and that’s just the average student, not the ones that work hard! Half the mocks aren’t even corrected properly, I have a feeling that my Biology mock was corrected by a young child or a chimp or something seeing as they forgot to add up my marks for half a long question. Yep. Idiot. So make sure you go through them yourself!
Study your mock paper. When you get your paper back, know where you went wrong and fill in all the right answers to make it A grade standard. Ask your teacher for the other mock paper too (they get sent one from DEB and one from ExamCraft) because these mocks are those companies predictions on what will come up on the real thing. Don’t rely solely on it, but be smart!
Don’t panic. As a person who suffered, and still does suffer a little, from anxiety, I know that’s easier said than done. But it becomes a more simple task once you know WHY it’s better to relax. For starters, our mind is split into two parts: your conscious mind, and your subconscious mind. Usually, we can’t get to our subconscious mind because we’re too busy listening to our conscious thoughts! But remember this, your subconscious mind is like a video recorder. It records every moment of your life, everything you’ve ever learned. So why can’t we remember everything? Because we’re too busy listening to our conscious thoughts of course! When you get into an exam and panic, thinking “Oh god is is it mitosis?! Is it binary fission?! What’s the answer? I don’t know any of this!” this is your conscious mind. If you take a few breaths and let your mind clear up of all these panicky thoughts you’re more likely to find the answer at the back of your head, in your subconscious mind. This is a technique that I find very effective!
Use different methods of study. For me, the same methods of study don’t work for every subject. For Home Ec, I can read over the chapter a few times and I’ll know it. For geography, all it takes for me is to write a sample answer out in my own handwriting, highlight key words, and look over it a few times. For English I use mind maps, I get grinds for Irish, and I have to write things out a million times before they’ll sink into my head for French. Flash cards are also a very effective method of studying, and so is completing exam paper questions although you may not think it. My advice for Home Ec and Biology would be to do all the exam paper questions on a chapter once you’ve finished that chapter. And I mean ALL of them; that way you figure out exactly which questions get asked most frequently. It’s all about being sly!
Analyse those exam papers. What I mean by this isn’t reading through them. What I’m about to explain takes a long time, and a lot of concentration, but can be extremely beneficial. I do this for Geography, Home Ec and Biology, and they did really help for the mocks. Taking Geography for example, what you need to do is make a list of every single sample answer that can come up. Yup, every last one. Once you’ve made that list, you need to figure out how many times it’s come up in the last few years (how common it is) and when the last time it came up was. This way, you can eliminate certain topics and focus on what’s more important. These three subjects are extremely predictable, and I can post my predictions another time if you guys want me to as long as you DO NOT RELY ON THEM 100% because as we all know from the Sylvia Plath crisis a few years back, predictions aren’t always accurate. You find out which topics are asked all the time, and can narrow down your workload, so it’s a win-win situation really!

Wow this was long, oops. Good luck to you all with your mock results, and as I said, don’t get too down if you don’t get what you want. Have faith in yourself and be optomistic; a negative mind set never created a positive outcome.

The Mocks

Hmm, where will I start?
To be honest I thought the mocks would be a lot worse. I thought they’d make me cry an unbelievable amount and that I’d launch into spontaneous panic attack during each exam, when really, I was okay.
I’m aiming for 475 in the leaving cert, and honestly I’ll be over the moon if I hit 420, or even 415 in the mocks. I know they’re not exactly good to go by, seeing as a half the time they’re not corrected properly and the teachers can be pretty obvious with hints in the weeks before the exam itself. But I thought they were great for timing, and I’m using them in a positive light, to see where I need to focus my work on.
This year I’m studying English, Irish, Maths, French, Geography, Biology an Home Ec. Maths is my only ordinary level subject and it’s extremely hard trying to juggle it when I’m so bad at it, along with the six honours subjects that I’m actually using to count in my points.
So far, I’ve gotten two mock results back. I got a D2 in maths, which I was absolutely over the moon with considering only 10 people in my year passed ordinary level maths. And I got a C2 in biology which I was also very happy with, because I thought it was my worst exam.
For the 475 I want in the real thing, I’m hoping to get an A2 in geography, a B1 in home ec, a B2 in english, B3’s in irish and biology and a C1 in french. It’s pretty wishful thinking, I know, but if you aim for the moon you’ll fall amongst the stars!

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