Tuesday 23 October 2018

Going to College: In the run-up to the exams, it is important to eat well, see friends and exercise

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Schools have released sixth-year students, the weather has picked up and the challenge of making the most of the final week is a real one. Many students still struggle with the level of self-discipline needed to work on their own this week, especially now that the sun has made an appearance. There are some things any student can do to maximise this time and make the most of their preparation.

The week before

When working independently at home, students should firstly identify their goals for the week: these will be different for every student. Make a list of work that needs to be done, work through it and tick each item off as it is achieved. Prioritise subjects that will be examined early, such as English and home economics, while being careful not to neglect those that will occur in week two.

If a teacher has asked students to come to class, or attend a revision session, students should attend. I guarantee that the teacher has somewhere else they would rather be and if they offer this opportunity, they are doing so because they believe the students need it or will benefit from it. You never know which gaps in your knowledge may be filled during this time and, if nothing else, they are helpful revision sessions. The teacher has been through this before. Trust them.

It is essential to attend to the basics: eating well, keeping up fluids, seeing friends, and exercise. Pull in your support system to help with this. Anxious parents may be delighted to keep the tea, biscuits and snacks coming. All these things may seem small, but they are key to stress reduction and are often overlooked. Attending to these allows students to keep their mood at its best and brain ready for learning.

The night before

Brains need time to wind down before sleep and studying immediately before bed will do nothing but ensure a restless night. You will perform better after a good night's sleep, so finish up revision in the early evening and try to have a nice meal and a little exercise, perhaps a walk, run, cycle etc. If you would like to spend an extra hour going over your final few points, consider getting up early. Organise your bag, uniform or clothes, materials and anything else you need. The less you have to do in the morning, the better.

On the day

Get up early. Give yourself plenty of time for everything. Perhaps spend some time going over your notes or flash cards. Arrive at your exam centre with plenty of time to spare. Remember that all Leaving Cert candidates must sign in on the first morning, which will take a little time. Know exactly where your exam centre is in your school. Do not presume it is the school hall or a particular classroom. Take some time to get yourself ready, whether this is in the exam hall or in a quiet corner. You know the classmates who are likely to stress you and increase anxiety. Stay away from them.

This is what you have been working towards. You are well prepared. Do your best.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

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