Saturday 7 December 2019

Students can make the grade by being prepared

Going to college

There are a number of steps students can take to make sure exams run smoothly.
There are a number of steps students can take to make sure exams run smoothly.
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

There is only one week left until the beginning of the Leaving Certificate exams. There are a number of things students can do to ensure the first day and indeed the weeks ahead go as smoothly as possible.

Days before

Organise everything you may need well in advance. Ensure you have your exam number, a number of pens and pencils and any other material you may need. Lay out your clothes the night before. Many students will wear their uniform which will make life easier. If you are allowed wear your own clothes choose something comfortable and appropriate to the temperature.

The day before

Spend time going over notes and practising any sections you feel you need to work on. Take a break during your study and consider going for walk or a run – this helps students to relax and to have a good night's sleep. There is always a temptation to stay up late to "go over the last few things" but this can be a bad idea. Leaving Certificate exams take a lot of energy.

The morning of the exam

Ensure that you leave plenty of time to get to the exam hall especially if you must travel some distance or are taking public transport. It is important to get to your exam centre in good time, especially on the first morning. You may need to check what centre you are in, especially if there are a number of centres in you school.

The first day is always the worst for nerves, although most nerves will settle after a day or so. Even the most relaxed students are likely to experience stress and nerves on the first morning, for example butterflies in the tummy, increased heart rate, or increased sweating. Often students find these physiological reactions concerning, as they worry that these symptoms will impact on their ability to perform. However these are perfectly natural reactions and it may be helpful to think of them as signs that your body is preparing to meet the challenge ahead.

Managing nerves

If a student does experience a large amount of stress at the beginning of exam there are a number of things they can do. Firstly, close your eyes and take a number of deep breaths. Count slowly to seven while breathing in, and to 11 while breathing out. This will allow oxygen to enter your system and calm your thoughts. Next, begin writing. Often we can look at exam questions and feel like we don't know the answers but once we start writing, we remember more and more as our brain begins to link the different information we have studied. Finally, do not engage in post-mortems or ask others what their answers were. When each exam is over move on to the next. Be confident that you have prepared well and take one step at a time.



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

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