So, the big day is finally here as Junior Cert and Leaving Cert students return to school to sit the state examinations.
Inevitably, the next couple of days will be stressful for all students and their parents. But students should take solace that, for most of them, today is likely to be the most stressful day and it will become easier from here on in.
At this stage, the hard work has been done. However, the next days and weeks will no doubt be a challenge.
As always, it is important to maintain balance during this time. It is both a physical and mental challenge and there are a number of things students can do to ensure they are in the best possible position to meet this challenge.
Before each exam, candidates should take time to go over that subject and refresh topics. They should stay positive and always stay until the end of the exam.
While working through each paper, candidates may find information for other questions popping into their head. Make a note of such things in your rough-work section and return to add them in later.
Even if candidates feel they have written everything they can, they should remain in the exam hall, reread what has been written and think about each answer.
If candidates do remember something once they have left the exam hall, it is too late to do anything about it. It is important for the candidate to be able to walk away from each exam knowing that they have truly given it their best.
After the exam, students should avoid post-mortems and wasting time trying to figure out what mark might have been achieved. While parents are anxious to know the details of how each exam went, reflecting in too much detail can lead to self-doubt and anxiety, which could potentially lead to poor performance in a later exams.
Similarly, students should avoid being drawn into conversations with other candidates about what they wrote etc. Remember, the exam is done and it is time to move on to the next.
After each exam, it is a good idea to try to take some time to relax, rest and unwind before the next. How long this break should be will depend on when the next exam is, and the individual. Try taking a nap, run, walk or some lunch before moving on to the next subject. It may be helpful to spend some time with family and friends.
When candidates have two exams in one day, there can often be a temptation to work through lunch. Two exams in one day is always difficult, but brains and bodies need rest and fuel to function, so candidates should try to make time for this as well as looking over their material.
Every candidate will face their own individual challenges at this time: this may be to maintain energy or motivation. Candidates should try to remember that this is the final few moments of something for which they have been preparing for many years, and as difficult as this final challenge may be, soon it will pass.
The very best of luck to everyone embarking on this challenge today, but especially to the class of 2015.
*Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
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