'There is nothing worse than points race stress'
Stress levels that Leaving Certificate candidates endure in sixth year are worse than anything they have experienced by their early 20s, even if they are preparing for final college exams or are unemployed.
The memories of the "points race" were clearly still embedded in the minds of students when ESRI researchers surveyed them for the final report in the 10-year study into their educational experiences.
At this stage, those students who went on to higher education - about six in 10 - had completed their degrees, or were in the process of doing so.
Overall, the ESRI found that the young people were largely positive about many aspects of their lives, including friendships, accommodation, their course or job and workload.
However, a significant minority - one in six - reported relatively high stress levels, for example losing sleep or feeling constantly under strain.
"It should be noted, however, that stress levels were lower than those reported while the young people were in sixth year", the ESRI researchers state.
Young people characterised their Leaving Cert exam to the ESRI team as "requiring too much writing" and memory work.
A significant proportion found the Leaving Cert exam schedule too demanding and felt under too much pressure.
For those who were experiencing stress when the researchers paid their final visit, the problem was greater among those who were unemployed as well as those in higher education preparing for their final exams
Researchers also found that the students who reported higher stress levels in sixth year were the same people who tended to experience higher stress levels three or four years later. According to the report, six in 10 were positive about their employment prospects, while around half were satisfied with their financial well-being.