Going to College: Some tips to help prepare for the exams next week
It is one week until the start of the Leaving Cert written exams. This can be a difficult week for students for many reasons, but below are some tips to help candidates to get the most out of this important period.
The week ahead
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When studying at home, students should firstly identify their goals.
Those who have been working diligently all year may find that now is the time to focus on flash cards and recall and double check their exam techniques. For those regretting that their good study intentions did not come to fruition earlier, it is important to attempt to let go of such thoughts - they are unhelpful now. Instead, make a list of work that needs to be done, work through it and tick off each one as it is achieved.
Prioritise subjects that will be examined early in the week, such as English and home economics, but be 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 you the teacher has somewhere else they would rather be and if they offer this opportunity, it is because they believe the students need it or will benefit from it. You never know which gaps in 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.
Students should maintain good balance in order to maximise productivity and reduce stress. It is essential to attend to the basics of eating well, keeping up fluids, seeing friends and exercising.
Many parents are desperate to help their child through this difficult few weeks but feel powerless; they can help by keeping the tea, biscuits and snacks coming, providing good dinners and offering supportive chats during breaks.
Finally, candidates taking physics, biology, chemistry, maths, LCVP and politics and society should be sure they are familiar with changes to the papers. The changes are small, but could cause a little concern to any student who is not expecting them.
The night before
Students should organise their bag, uniform or clothes, materials, etc. The less a candidate has to do in the morning, the better. If parents are trying to help, they could make breakfast or offer a lift, or anything else that allows the student to keep focused.
Brains can't go asleep immediately after study and a good night's sleep is essential for success in Leaving Cert. All students should ensure they finish their study early on the evening before an exam. A walk, cycle or run can be extremely helpful to switch off.
If there are a few points to look over before the exam, it is better to get up early than to stay up late the night before.
On the day
Rise early and eat a healthy and full breakfast (even if you don't feel like food). All candidates should ensure they arrive at their exam venue with plenty of time to spare. They should ensure they check the location of the particular exam centre and do not presume that it will be in the same place for each exam. This information is normally displayed around the school.
Candidates should ensure they have their exam number with them. Remember, this is different from the CAO number. Finally, they should take some time in a quiet corner before beginning and avoid classmates who they know will add to their stress and anxiety.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin