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Don't panic... it's your last-minute guide to the

The start of the dreaded Leaving Cert tomorrow spins most students into a general state of panic. Today, many students will morph into caffeine-guzzling maniacs falling casualty to the stresses and strains that exist to maximise points. The remainder of the epic Leaving Cert countdown is a matter of hours, minutes and seconds. Nerves, anyone? Of course. Pre-exam jitter is inevitable as students feel the heat more than ever.

The next two weeks are an examination of your ability to stay calm and perform well under pressure. This is your opportunity to show off. Don't blow it.


At this point the time for study has well and truly passed. Today, you should spend the afternoon preparing yourself mentally and strategically as you approach the final hurdle. By 6pm or 7pm you should wrap up your revision and clear your desk.

Do not cram! This phenomenon is actually more destructive than constructive. The hard work is done. On exam day (tomorrow!) your awareness and concentration is heightened. Adrenalin kicks in, which often helps students remember more than they ever thought they knew. The brain is willing to go the extra mile. So let me hear those sighs of relief. Be organised. Use these last few hours as a chance to flick over exam layout in English Paper 1 and Home Economics. Refresh your memory in terms of choice on the paper. The major issue worth addressing is timing. Year after year, students fail to complete Leaving Cert papers, particularly in English as you are pushed to the limit with your pen.

Nevertheless, timing is under your control. Construct a time plan this evening if you have not already done so. Be realistic. Stick rigidly to this schedule as you progress through the paper.

A clear plan in your mind should ease panic and eliminate the disaster of realising you have a whole question and a half left to do with seven minutes to go. Organisation creates confidence. Confidence brings a sense of control. Control creates excellent grades.

Refrain from the influences of your peers during the next two weeks. The majority of sixth-year students have an instinctual desire to compare study methods.

"How many hours did you do last night? Yeah I did nine... Up until 3am!" Sound familiar? Mute all panic stricken peers for the following weeks. Do not succumb to the curse of the post mortem after each exam. I vividly recall students loitering outside school after each exam engaging in a good aul chat about what they wrote for this, that and the other.

I was long gone, almost home and ready to start my revision for the following day's exam. I urge you to do the same. Do not lose sleep striving to outdo your peers. Concentrate on yourself and your own progress.

It's quite acceptable to become a hermit and hibernate for the duration of your exams. In fact, it's almost advisable.

The next two weeks or 17 days, or whatever it may be, could determine your future. Exercise, friends and fun can all wait until the end. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright. This motivation should keep you on track and see you through until you come out the other side. If you are willing to give this everything you can, you are guaranteed to reap the rewards. Surround yourself with positivity, pay attention to detail and don't forget to sleep!

Stop taking cold showers, lay off the Red Bull and log off Facebook. Mute all panic-stricken peers, learn to laugh and remember the surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed. Good luck!

Zoe Lynch sat the Leaving Cert examination in 2011 and achieved maximum points