Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

My advice for anyone preparing for the Leaving Cert volunteers Conor looks back on his leaving cert year and what he has learned from it

Written by Conor Burke and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"A piece of paper with a grade on it is not a reflection on your success as a person."

Share this article -

I am finally finished my Leaving Cert exams. Words cannot describe how happy I feel right now; I am elated. Ecstatic. Excited. I have always considered myself to be a fairly optimistic person; I always "look on the bright side of life" and I am an all round happy guy; but in a lot of ways, the Leaving Cert took it's toll on me.

I think that in general, school caters to one type of person and they are the logical thinking, academic people. I think that I am more creative; I like drama and theatre, music, and writing. I knew that the education system and I would not necessarily be the best of friends, but now that it's over I am looking forward to just living for a while.

To be completely honest, the leaving cert was probably the  worst ten months of my life. I hope I don't sound too melodramatic, but it's honestly the truth. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of good times too; the graduation ceremony, the mock interviews, the various college open days and even the excitement of setting up my CAO account for the first time.

But the awful days were too many, in my opinion, and the optimistic light that had once shone from me had started to distinguish slowly as the year dragged on.

I couldn't take the pressure of it, the exams, the decisions, the lack of time. It was all too much and when I got it wrong, I was made to feel like a failure. I'm writing this article to let people know that it's okay to feel this way. Many people feel this way. It's not something to be ashamed of and it's a normal part of human life.

My advice to future 6th years would be - try not to panic. The Leaving Cert will not define your life if you don't let it. The exams are very important but at the end of the day a piece of paper with a grade on it is not a reflection on your success as a person. Whether you end up getting a D3 on an ordinary level paper, or an A1 on a higher level paper, you are worth more than that.

This was something that took me a while to realise, and is something that the Irish education system has, in my opinion, failed to grasp. There are always 'back-doors' into everything, points race aside. As my stereotypical Irish mammy once said to me "The only results that matter is the results you get from the doctor." If that's the case, how lucky we all are.

Share this article -

Published June 17th2013
Tags leaving cert exams opinion exam results
Can this be improved? Contact if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?