You’ve messed up one of your exams. What happens now?

You’ve sat the exam. You’ve messed it up.
What happens next?

Contrary to what you feel at the time, messing up in one or two questions isn’t going to make much, if any, difference to your overall set of results. How you respond to the setback will however say a lot about your approach to overcoming adversity, not just now but in life in general.

What you’ve got to remember is that almost nobody is going to excel in every exam. So your ‘competition’ is the other students (the fact that we can use the words competition and education in the same context is an absolutely terrible indictment on what we do, but for now it is what it is). And they’re going to make mistakes too.

If you allow yourself to dwell on mistakes then it is going to adversely affect your ability to concentrate for later exams. You’ve simply got to put it behind you.
I like to use sporting analogies.
If you’re a footballer and you miss a penalty in a crucial game then you want nothing more than for the ground to open up and swallow you.
But that’s not an option.

So you pick yourself up, hold your head up high and get on with the game – no matter how difficult that seems at the time.

You see nobody goes a whole match without making mistakes – it’s how you respond that determines whether or not you are a success.

So try to avoid the post-mortems, particularly if you’re not an optimist to begin with.

For what it’s worth, this also applies on a large scale. Reading about the anniversary of the Normandy Landings, a comment from one of the veterans resonated with me. In war, the side that wins is usually the side that makes the fewer mistakes.
So don’t compound one by making another.

Welcome to life.



BOARDS.IE – An intriguing resource


boards.ie seems to win awards every year for its site. For me it merely highlights the fact that everybody seems to be communicating with each other except teachers – sure what would we have to talk about?

Well here’s an interesting nugget – from the comments below (pasted from the relevant boards.ie pages) it would appear that quite a few teachers are not sure what they are supposed to do with their students’ experiment copies, or how to fill in the green investigation booklets. Remember that if the students don’t tick the relevant experiments in their green booklets then they automatically forfeit 10%.

The site itself is also a very useful resource for getting student feedback on their various exams – these kids tend to have more honesty and intelligence than we (I?) give them credit for:

ok everyone, don’t forget your hardbacks tomorrow!

What you mean “hardback”?

Experiment copy? I nearly forgot! Thanks guys for reminding me

Dunno what he is on about, you don’t get marked on your hardback. Maybe he means just for study purposes?

I’m not sure..

You get marked on your mandatory experiment hardback

Think he means your experiment copy?? I think!

Exactly. DO NOT forget it. If they go to check yours, and you’ve ticked the boxes to say you’ve done it, and its not there, they count that as cheating.

nah you’re not supposed to take it in with you afaik…the supervisors would have reminded us anyways….

They inspect a small % of schools and the hbacks are sposed to be with your science teacher.
You’re meant to bring it in because every year they check a few schools, and if they check your school and they’re not there for inspection you lose your 10%

We’ve been told a million times to bring ’em in tomorrow

Our teacher collected ours at the end of April, she said there was a deadline I had to do about 15 experiments in the space of 3 days!

But the inspectors only come in the summer!
I’ve had to write up a good few today, but that was my own lazy selfs fault..

ive a few only not filled the science teacher said it was ok since half the class or more didnt get em finished either =P

I aint bringing mine in that’d be effort and no one told us to we were given them back and told it was fine?

Gawd im confused i ticked no boxes =S my science teacher is crap we have been reading out of a book all year and havent done any experimanens execpt for the 2 ones you did for 25%

My science teacher told us that we put them in a little pocket in this folder that also has our investigations in it. They just check to see whether you’re telling the truth or not. sure if yer teacher told u its fine then its not yer fault so theyd probably give you the marks

Exam done in 43 minutes. All spaces filled. No blanks. Two questions I couldn’t answer (one on chromosomes, one on the Hoffman Voltameter). Everything else is as far as I know it, correct. Junior Cert science in need of reform? hell yes
I know I’m probably not alone on this front.

have to agree ! left at about 10:30, that exam was an insult to my intelligence

For the green lab books did we have to tick something or do we just do the experiments and hand it up?…..i already have it handed up but didnt tick anything..??

You didn’t tick anything if the project booklet to say you did the experiments. I’m sorry to say if you didn’t, that’s 10% gone, it happened in my school before

Horrendous:Average mark in Junior Science H.L written exam is 55%

I was browsing through the Chief Examiner’s report (as one does) for the Junior Cert science exam 2006 and found buried amongst all the text and statistics the following unbelievable nugget: the average mark for the written exam was 55%.
I couldn’t find any data on 2007 or 2008, so I don’t know if things have changed in the meantime or not.


This is after three years work. In hindsight it would have been more useful if it was one percentage point lower in that we could then conclude that the average mark didn’t merit an honour and maybe drastic action could have been taken. Maybe for that matter action has been taken, but again I couldn’t find any comment or reference to this anythere.

I can see why this statistic didn’t cause a furore at the time: the overall mark turned out to be 67%, so most students would have been (relatively) happy with that. This was due to the combining of the written exam with the two other sections.
Coursework A: (recording of experiment work over the three years) is worth 10% of the overall mark and the average mark here was 98%.
Coursework B: (based on a report of two seperate investigations) is worth 25% of the overall mark and the average mark here was 85%.

But stilll.

The standard explanantion for this is that students no longer have a choice in the paper, so all questions need to be answered. This is certainly a large contributory factor, but when I looked over the papers for 2006, 2007 and 2008 there was another shock. I concentrated on Physics and found that the hardest topic – Electricity – accounted for over one fifth of all the marks on the physics sections.
Three other sections featured very strongly; Heat, Light and Energy, and all other topics were then very much hit-or-miss as regards whether they featured or not.

Some of the questions within each section were also ridiculous. I have listed some of the worst offenders in a submission to the editor of SCIENCE, the in-house journal for members of the ISTA (Irish Science Teachers Association). The full article can be accessed below: on the top-right there is the option to toggle for the full screen.

I included in the document a link to this posting so hopefully we will receive some feedback (the next edition of the journal goes out towards the end of May) .

What think you?