This is my first guest blog post (I hope it won’t be the last) on the Leaving Cert. Today’s post is on the CRAFT EXAM for ART and here, Alison Bryan has given her top tips for fulfilling your potential when it comes to this 5 hour exam.
Alison describes herself as “an English student who probably should have listened to everyone else and stuck with art but was too lazy to create a portfolio”. Well, portfolio or no portfolio, these tips are invaluable and are coming from a top former Leaving Cert Art student:
With the ever looming doom of the five hour craft exam it’s always handy to have some tips on how to make those five long hours fly by in the most productive of ways. Although five hours seems like a lot of time, in art exam terms it’s practically nothing. With regard to the craft exam, in particular the calligraphy and graphic questions, there are a number of essential things you can do as prep work which will help you to no end.
- Make sure to disguise elements of your finished piece on your prep sheet. Although you’re not allowed to have the finished piece or, in many cases, the main factor of your piece on the prep sheet, you should have drawings and research which aid you for when you’re in the exam. If you’re drawing a vase, pick vases with similar aspects to the final one you have chosen to go on your prep sheet. Not only will this be practice for the exam (drawing similar shapes and patterns) but if you get stuck in the exam you can always look back on it.
- Practice practice practice! You’re probably sick of hearing this by now but you DO need to practice your finished piece at least once full size. It’ll be impossible to make the most of your time in the exam if you have no idea where your image is going in relation to your lettering. Measurements are your best friends here. I found that measuring out every aspect of the piece in relation to the border really helps, especially if you have awkwardly placed lettering. Having a rough idea of the measurements means that if you plan it on your pre-lim as you’ve practiced, it will be so much easier to make sure you have it perfect for your piece.
- Put some effort into your pre-lim. I know it’s only worth about ten marks, but if you have a solid pre-lim you’ll already have half the work done when it comes to planning where everything goes on your final piece. Don’t spend forever and it’s fine to make adjustments on your final piece, but it’s great to have a proper complete visual aid to make sure you’re on the right track.
- Don’t panic. If something goes wrong there is a way to fix it. Remember while you’re drawing to step back from time to time to make sure your piece looks the way you want it to. Don’t rush and end up making a mistake which you can’t fix. If you do make an error, take a moment to figure out how to fix the rest of the piece in relation to the error so it still looks good. This is another reason why you should make sure your pre-lim is up to scratch. If there’s a paint spill or spelling mistake the pre-lim will show the examiner that you do know what you’re doing and that whatever went wrong is just due to nerves or a bad day. They want to give you the points you’re working so hard for. So you might as well show them what you got as much as you can.
- Have the right equipment. There is nothing worse than showing up on the day with cartridge paper instead of watercolour paper. Although you don’t want to spend a lot of money on this and the final result is due to what you’ve created, the examiner does consider all of your prep work which is obvious once they’ve looked at your piece. Spend about half an hour the night before checking you’ve the right pencils, paintbrushes and whatever media you might need. A sharpener and eraser are your best friends right now so you don’t want to be missing them. The aim is to have everything you need at hand when you’re in the exam so you aren’t wasting time, so some extra time ensuring this is not going to go amiss.
- Draw the night before. You’re going to be sick of it by now but if you take twenty minutes to roughly sketch out your plan for the next day it’s going to be fresh in your head and you’ll be ready in the exam.
- Don’t listen to the hype. As with the orals and practicals, you’re going to have people complain and assume and worry with this exam. Your worst enemy is looking at their work during the exam, listening to them and taking what they say to heart before and at the break or comparing yourself to them in any way. If you’ve done the work and prep you have no reason to worry or second guess yourself. You don’t want to be thrown off at the halfway mark and be unable to finish the fantastic piece you’ve already spent two and a half hours working on. It may sound clichéd, but trust in what you’re doing.
- Enjoy it! Unlike other exams you’re not expected to learn off and recite on paper. Here you are permitted to pretty much do what you want. Art is something to be enjoyed so through all the worry and stress, realize that you’ve been given five hours to produce something to be proud of. You’ll do that best if you’re relaxed and enjoying what you’re making.
Remember, art is a subject where you have multiple chances to score well. You don’t want to wreck it with one bad exam, especially when you don’t need to constantly rush. Keep calm and carry on…you’ll have over half the exam done by June!