The Leaving Certificate, mention that to any 17 or 18 year old in Ireland today and they’ll tell you how stressful those exams are.
I did my Leaving Cert, as we called it then, back in 1987. It is a required state exam that qualifies you for advancement into third level education or to graduate from the Irish equivalent of high school.
We did the exams in June and the results came out in early August. I did Honors English (as opposed to pass), Honors Irish, Honors Geography, Honors History, Honors Social & Scientific Economics, Pass Maths, Pass French, and Pass Bookkeeping and Commerce. I failed honors Irish, or so they told me. So I packed my bags and left for America. Three months later my Irish teacher came knocking on my parent’s door.
I did not get offered university placement in 1987 because of an error on the correction of my Irish exams. It took my detective-like Irish teacher, Síle MacLoughlin, to do some digging in order to discover that the oral part of my Irish exam had not been added on to the final results, therefore instead of failing honors Irish, I passed the exam.
I never thanked her for it, I should have. Many, many times. I would never have thought that a mistake was made, and never have graduated from university because of this lady’s hard work.
With the recent cut backs and high incidence of human error in correcting exams this year I would urge all students who did their exams to question grades that they feel were lower than expected.
I started university a year later than those who did their leaving cert with me, but I had worked abroad for a year and had enough money to pay for my tuition, books and living expenses. There’s nothing wrong with taking a year out to earn some money for school, but don’t forget to go back to it.
So here is the lesson that I learned the hard way: If you feel that your final grade was lower than expected, by all means question it. Mistakes can be made and corrected. Don’t throw away a chance to proceed on to third level education or just accept that you got that grade. There might be a chance that the grade is incorrect, especially this year with all the cut backs. So, don’t pack your bags yet, contact the SEC, State Examinations Commission, and ask them how to query those questionable results.
Congratulations to all Leaving Cert Students 2013 in Ireland. I wish you all the very best in the future.