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a load of waffle

11 memories of Leaving Cert English that will haunt Irish people forever

A national nightmare.

File Photo Leaving Cert Exams Begin This Wednesday. Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

TODAY, LEAVING CERT students will be sitting down to their first exam: English Paper 1.

If that just sent a shiver down your spine, you’re not alone. Thousands of Irish people will be revisiting very specific memories of the English papers over the next few days.

1. Like all the waffle you waffled in your Paper 1 personal essay

File Photo Minister for Education Richard Bruton is to publish rules aimed at reducing the cost of education for parents, with penalties for schools that do not comply. The Department of Education has issued a statement saying a forthcoming circular to sc Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

You probably can’t remember exactly what you wrote about, which is definitely for the best. The mortification would cripple you.

2. The absolute panic of the Comprehension questions

You know, stuff like:

Do you agree that elements of narrative and aesthetic language are used effectively to engage the reader in the above passage?


3. The half-remembered Shakespeare quotes that still linger at the back of our minds

Hamlet,_Shakespeare,_1676_-_0001 Wikimedia Wikimedia

Hamlet’s “funeral baked meats” on the marriage tables. Or if you studied King Lear, ”OUT, VILE JELLY!” Just launching into your head, unbidden, years later.

4. And wishing you could go back in time and tell him to feck off

William_Shakespeare_1609 Wikimedia Wikimedia

Just feck off Billy Shakespeare! How dare you!

5. The feverish predictions of which poets would come up on Paper 2

Poetry Awd Michael Longley PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

“If you take the last year Boland came up and subtract it from the last year Longley came up, you get 10. And this year is 2010. So she’ll be on the paper. Definitely.”

“There’s going to be a full moon the night before the exam so that basically guarantees Yeats will come up.”

6. And proclaiming that you were ‘only studying’ X amount of poets and that’s that

1200px-Black-white_photograph_of_Emily_Dickinson2 Wikimedia Wikimedia

Yet constantly second-guessing yourself. Was three enough? Should I cover my arse with a fourth? Guide me, Emily Dickinson!

7. The ripple of disappointment throughout the exam hall when the favourite did not appear

File Photo Leaving Cert Exams Begin This Wednesday. Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

It was palpable. There may have been tears shed. That was how devastating it was.

8. And never being able to hear their name again without a pang of anger

File Photo: Enda Kenny Coming Under Pressure To Cancel White House Visit. LESLIE E. KOSSOFF / LESLIE E. KOSSOFF / /

Oh, Obama quoted Eavan Boland in the White House on St Patrick’s Day in 2016? YET WHY COULD I NOT QUOTE HER ON THAT FATEFUL MORNING IN 2010?

9. Being almost able to act out the movies that were your Comparative Studies texts

billy_elliot_ver1_xlg Impawards Impawards

While also remembering random bits as examples of Theme/Issue, General Vision and Viewpoint, and Cultural Context. *screams*

10. Despite all this, you get immense satisfaction from recognising poetry references in the wild

William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_Beresford Wikimedia Wikimedia

Like when people say “All has changed, changed utterly” and you’re all “BOOM YEATS I AM SMART”.

11. But every year, you’re grateful you’ll never have to be put through that again

Leaving Certificate Exams Begin Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

Never ever. You absolutely cannot make us. We won’t!

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