Junior Cert Cancelled, Leaving Cert Delayed

  • The Junior Cert is cancelled. To be replaced with in school assessments at start of next school year.
  • Leaving Cert is put back to late July/August. Hope to have time table in June.
  • Schools stay closed until further notice.
  • Current restrictions stay in place for another three weeks to May 5th. 

The advice to exam students is to take a little break from study now and recharge. Then continue study with aim of sitting exams in late July and early August. Hopefully there will be some in school time before the exams for the exam students but this to be confirmed and dependent on how things are going with the spread of the virus at the time, and talks with unions.

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Mind your Back when using Phone or Computer Screens

Today’s post is a bit different to what we normally cover on this site but appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. With schools closed and many people working from home due to the covid-19 virus, many students and others may be spending a lot more time than normal trying to study and work with online resources. So today we will look at some simple biomechanics so you can avoid unnecessary stress and pain.

Text neck happens when people are hunched over looking at their electronic devices, for hours at a time. This puts an extreme load on the spine, and muscles. Your head weighs, 4.5 to 5.5kg on average, about 8% of your total body weight. When you are standing or sitting straight its centre of gravity is directly above your spine and it is well supported. At a normal curvature, the cervical spine is designed to support this weight. There is no excess stress being placed on the spine or surrounding muscles.

Head position

But if you lean forward your head’s centre of gravity is no longer in line with your spine and you get a resulting torque or turning force under the influence of gravity. If you lean 15 degrees forward, the this force head is more like 12.2kg. With a 30-degree tilt, 18kg. A 45-degree angle and it feels like 22.2kg. The neck is thoroughly strained at this point, with a dangerous curvature that disrupts nerve pathways and stresses vertebral discs. And when you are hunched over at a 60-degree angle looking at a mobile device your head puts a 27.2kg strain on your neck.

That is puts extra pressure on the discs in the neck and spine, causing increased compression and can lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain and severe headaches.

The lower part of the neck, just above the shoulders, is particularly vulnerable to pain caused by forward head posture. The lower cervical vertebrae, including C5, C6, and C7, already handle the most load from the weight of the head. As the head is held further forward, this load only increases.

With forward head posture, some studies suggest that the compressive forces typically increase the most at the C4-C5 and C5-6 spinal levels. The intervertebral discs and facet joints at these spinal levels may be subject to additional shearing forces with the vertebrae being pulled in different directions relative to one another, as well as repetitive traumas that can cause pain and other symptoms.

While the lower cervical spine may experience greater loads with forward head posture, it should also be noted that compressive forces are increased on all of the discs and joints throughout the cervical spine. Furthermore, the specific cervical levels that experience the largest increase in compressive loads can vary from person to person.

Head forces normal

When everything is normal three main forces are at play and balance each other out to give a zero net force and no excess strain. The upper vertebrae supply an upward force that balances out with the torque forces due to the head’s weight and forces exerted by the muscles.

Head forces leaning forward

But when you lean forward the centre of gravity is no longer directly above the line of support from the spin. This results in the muscles having to do extra work to counter the extra torque force.

So what can you do?

You can do simple exercises by squeezing your shoulder blades together. You can practice keeping your neck back and keeping your ears over your shoulders. Get up and stretch every now and again.

And when using a mobile device try to keep it in front of you, don’t look down. When using a laptop or desktop computer ensure that the screen is at eye level when you sit up straight. In other words, do not be looking down on your screen for long periods. You could rest your laptop on some hardback books if you need to raise it.

Poor posture over an extended period can lead to life long problems so take the time to set up your computer and use your phone appropriately.

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Leaving and Junior Cert oral and practical examinations cancelled

The 2020 Leaving Cert and Junior Cert oral and practical examinations have been cancelled on foot of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, said that all students who had been due to take those tests would be awarded full marks for that portion of the exam.

The cancelled exams include oral tests in Leaving Cert Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese.

Practical performance tests in Leaving Cert music have been cancelled also, together with practical performance tests in Junior Cert music and home economics.

The minister said he expects the main written exams to go ahead as normal in June despite the oral and practical State exams being cancelled.

Mr McHugh said “The last thing I wanted to do was put extra pressure on students when these exams were due to start next week. Students are under enough stress – they can now focus on the written aspect.”

Mr McHugh said he expects Covid-19 to peak in mid-April.

“We’re still focused on written exams going ahead. We don’t have a baseline in terms of certainty. Ideal scenario would be the virus to peak in mid-April, for students to come back after that. But it’s all based on hypothetical scenarios.”

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Notice for existing Clients

Whether the exams go ahead as currently scheduled or closer towards the end of the summer remains to be seen, but students must prepare in any event. The situation with the Covid-19 virus is a fast evolving situation and the only reliable sources of information for time tables are the State Examinations Commission website and your school which should receive any updates. Do not depend on an old print out of a time table that may be subject to change.

Assume for now that the final written exams will start as scheduled on June 3rd.

See https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/BI-EX-14986545.pdf for Junior Cert exams

See https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/BI-EX-17618720.pdf for Leaving Cert exams.

Prepare an outline time table of how and when you will cover your remaining work and revision over the next 10 weeks. Also include time for exercise and relaxation activity.

Some students might like to download and print some blank-time-table-templates from

https://galwaymathsgrinds.wordpress.com/resources/blank-time-table-templates/ .


use an online calender with email notifications as such as with google’s gmail and calender


simply use pen and paper freehand.

The purpose is not to have fancy looking time tables but to make sure you allocate time to do all the work you need to get covered. Not having school to go to means you have to have more self discipline and one approach would be to study according to your school weekly timetable up to this.

It is unfortunate that we have to suspend face to face classes until further notice, probably for the rest of this school year. But if we keep our heads, have a little patience and help one another out we will come through it.

I have compiled online resource packs that can be purchased from https://gmg.teachable.com/. They contain easy access to past papers, marking schemes, syllabi, subject related booklets I have produced over the years and links to videos and further information by other providers that I think will be useful to you all in one place. Feel free to pass the link above to your friends and classmates who will be in the same boat.

I hope to offer some support via email, my website www.GalwayMathsGrinds.com and Facebook posts on https://www.facebook.com/GalwayMathsGrinds/, and add updates to the resource packs as students highlight areas where they need further input and clarifications. If I get swamped with requests, priority will be given to students scheduled to do exams this coming June. If you have any suggestions on how we might offer better support to one another feel free to pass them on. While video conferencing might seem like a good idea I think we will encounter problems with poor speeds and connectivity, but we can see as we go along.

In some cases I have phone or email contact details for students or one or more of their parents or guardians or all of these. If you want to receive communications from me over the next few weeks can you send an email to mymathsclass@gmail.com with your full name, one email address and one mobile phone number to be the principle means of contacting you and sending you information. It is up to you whether it is the student’s or the parent’s information.

If you already use Facebook in a disciplined manner you might like to “like” https://www.facebook.com/GalwayMathsGrinds/ to ensure you get any updates I send out. But if you are likely to waste a lot of time on it, or any other social media platform, then turn them off now.

Your school should also be trying to offer some support from a distance. If I am made aware of what they are offering hopefully I can compliment rather than duplicate their offering.

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Face to Face Classes cancelled until further Notice.

It looks as if we are not on the point where the number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland will start to increase very significantly. I am therefore stepping up isolation and physical distancing protocols in line with the advice from the state’s medical experts. I will not be taking on any new clients for face to face classes until further notice. Online resource packs can be purchased from https://gmg.teachable.com/.

Face to face classes with existing clients will also be cancelled until further notice. I hope to still offer some support to these clients via distance learning supports like email, this website www.GalwayMathsGrinds.com or https://www.facebook.com/GalwayMathsGrinds/.

Priority will be given to students scheduled to sit exams this coming June. Whether the exams go ahead as currently scheduled or closer towards the end of the summer remains to be seen, but students must prepare in any event.

This is a fast evolving situation and our response will evolve as we come up against and resolve problems. But if we keep our heads, have a little patience and help one another out we will come through it.

Check in with the website or Facebook periodically to check for updates. Perhaps you might like the Facebook page to ensure you are notified of updates.

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Saturday’s Classes cancelled due to Red Weather Warning

All classes on Saturday, 29/2/20 are cancelled in the interests of safety due to the red weather warnings.

red weather warning map


  • Status Red – Wind warning for Galway and Clare

    Very severe winds associated with Storm Jorge (Hor-hay) on Saturday.
    Westerly winds will reach mean speeds of 85 to 100km/h in places on Saturday afternoon with gusts of 130 to 145km/h, with an elevated risk of coastal flooding.

    Valid: 13:00 Saturday 29/02/2020 to 16:00 Saturday 29/02/2020

    Issued: 16:00 Friday 28/02/2020

  • Status: Orange Wind warning for Galway, Mayo, Clare and Kerry

    Status Orange – Wind warning for Galway, Mayo, Clare and Kerry

    Some severe winds expected during Saturday associated with Storm Jorge (Hor-hay). Southwest quickly veering west and later northwest will reach mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h with gusts of 110 to 130km/h, possibly higher in very exposed areas with an elevated risk of coastal flooding.

    Valid: 06:00 Saturday 29/02/2020 to 03:00 Sunday 01/03/2020

    Issued: 11:00 Thursday 27/02/2020




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Happy Christmas

Christmas Greetings

Wishing all our clients and friends a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous new year.

We finish the year after Saturday 21st and restart on January 6th.

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Area of overlap of circles of equal radius where each touches the centre of the other

Problem: Given 2 circles that intersect each other in such a way that each circle passes through the other’s centre. What is the area of overlap if the radius of each is 4cm?


If we draw a line segment between the points of intersection of the circles it divides the required area in half. The portion on the left of this segment is a sector of the circle on the right and the area on the right is a sector of the circle on the left. Both sectors have the same area.

We can build Equilateral triangles with their vertices at the circle centres and the points of intersection, as shown below, whose side length is r:

The angle <AC1B is therefore 120°.

The red colour below outlines a sector of circle C1 with an angle of 120 degrees.

The portion of this on the right of [AB] is a segment of the circle on the left. This is half of the required area.

The area of the segment is equal to the area of the sector minus the area of triangle AC1B.

= π r2 (120/360°) – (r/2 x (r√3)/2)

= π r2/3 – (r2√3) /4

= r2( π /3 – √3 /4)

The total required area is twice this. = 2r2( π /3 – √3 /4)

Finally sub in the value for the radius of 4cm and let the calculator do the rest.

=17.197 cm2

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Junior Cert Results out Today

life signposts

Today is D-day for Junior Cert results. Students will be getting their results in school today or from 4pm they can get them online. In the scheme of things the results students get to day are of little real importance other than an indicator of how successfully they have worked on their subject matter over the last three years. The vast majority will do the Leaving Cert and then today’s results will not matter at all. That said, students who did well are entitled to mark their achievements while those who did not should take some time to figure out what they need to change to do better in the next examination.

Of 64,330 students from the Junior Cert class of 2019 who are receiving their results, 19 candidates will be celebrating 11 As or their near-equivalent under the new regime, Distinctions, followed by 88 with 10. In statistical terms these are outliers.

There are a lot of changes taking place in the Junior Cert exam and much debate as to the merits or otherwise of the changes. Some subjects, such as Science and Business, that were previously offered at higher and ordinary level are now only offered at common level. As the new Junior Cycle Framework continues to be phased in, June was the last time that Junior Cert students were examined in the old curriculums in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and CSPE (Civic, Social, and Political Education). They have all been replaced by new syllabi or subject ‘specifications’. We have a new “wellbeing” course. We have had the recent heated debate on whether history should be considered a core subject or not.

Today, students will receive the traditional alphabetical grades (A’s, B’s, C’s etc) in the majority of subjects. But, in the new subjects – English, Science, and Business Studies – grades are in a new format. – between 90% and 100% – now attracts a ‘Distinction’. The second highest mark – between 75% and 90% – is a ‘Higher Merit’. The new Junior Cycle Framework combines today’s results with the results of school-based assessments and projects into an overall ‘Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement’. This means home schooled students can only be marked for the written exams in June as the group projects must be done in school. There is an awful lot of change going on but I can find little evidence that improved levels of education will result. We will have to wait and see.

A sad reflection on our society is the fact that the Gardaí need to issue statements advising people to to take a few simple precautions to ensure their safety. Have a plan for the evening. How are you getting home? Are you taking a taxi, getting a lift or staying with a friend? Be mindful of your property. Keep your phone, wallet or purse on you at all times. If you find yourself in a scenario and sense there could be trouble, walk away. Call the Gardaí immediately if you feel the situation is getting out of hand. Think of the consequences for both yourself and others if you were to hit someone. Additional Gardaí will be patrolling from early this evening. We will be operating in a uniform and also plain clothes capacity and will be adopting a zero tolerance approach to anyone found behaving in an anti-social manner.

The message is celebrate sensibly and with respect for yourself and others. And remember good or bad, your results are just another little signpost on your journey of life. What you make of it is up to you.

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Success in Study as in Life is:

Success in Life

This morning I received an email typical of some I receive from parents a few times per year. It read as follows:

Hi Noel.
My son has just gone into junior cert and badly needs help to plan study and homework. He seems to waste lots of time with the book open and nothing sinking in. I feel if he could just be more motivated and organised he could be getting better grades. We also are to blame for not keeping a check on his work and its causing such worry. Any ideas where we could go from here? He has bags of books, folders and notes all over and I’m not qualified to help him. Help!

My reply would be something like this:

Hi (name),

You have hit the nail on the head. It comes down to motivation and organisation, and putting good habits or systems in place.

The natural tendency of many students is to spend too much time reading long sections of their textbooks without any real engagement, highlighting some of the text in the belief that this makes it stand out in their memory or copying text in their own handwriting. Unfortunately, these are the most inefficient ways to work.

Instead students should read shorter passages, then close the book and answer questions on what they have just read. Unfortunately this is the less likely thing most students do if left to their own devices. This is the reason homework is given, (or should be). School textbooks generally have questions at the end of each chapter or section of a chapter. Having a quick read of these questions before reading the actual text can be helpful because the student can then read with the purpose of finding the answers to those questions rather than just passively read without direction. If the textbook does not have questions, the student should close the book and spend a minute or two recalling in their own mind what they have just read, and make up and answer their own questions.

Should the student come across a question they can not answer after a genuine attempt, then ask for help at the first opportunity, be it from a teacher or classmate etc. Do not leave questions unanswered, because further lessons may be based on this information.

Several short bursts of activity will be more effective than a few marathon sessions.

Students also need to revise the work they did last week and a month ago to implant it successfully in their long term memory, so part of their study schedule should include quick revisions of work done earlier.

Eliminate distractions when studying. Watching TV, taking phone calls from friends or checking social media while studying does not work. You do one or the other.

Students need to accumulate facts, vocabulary and definitions before they make connections between them to develop understanding. Making flash cards can be helpful for learning short definitions. Drawing out mind maps can be helpful in finding connections between facts and seeing how one thing relates to another.

Before starting a study session have everything you will need readily available. (Pens, paper, textbooks, calculator etc.). Having to go search for something you need will break your concentration on the current activity.

These are some of the basics to take account of when studying. There is no magic bullet, so single big thing that will solve the problem in an instant. Instead, it is the repeated applications of the basics, over and over again that leads to success. This requires perserverance, a quality often in short supply in an age of instant gratification.

Here are some details on my online course on Study Skills.

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