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My countdown to Leaving Cert success

One week to go... The week prior to the exam is filled with panic, pressure and perseverance.

School is out! Forever.

At this stage it is extremely important to stay organised.

Teachers are no longer responsible for keeping track of you. It's over to you.

Do not get caught up in this cloud of chaos. Keep your cool, remain focused and do not give up. At this point, it is important to play to your strengths by making wise decisions.

Most students find this week difficult. Stress mounts, which leads to procrastination generating even more stress.

In the words of Hamlet:

"Now might I do it pat, now he is praying and now I'll do't: and so he goes to heaven: and so am I revenged."

Protect yourself from his fatal flaw -- procrastination. Have a clear goal for each study block of each day. This will keep you on the right path.

Expect the unexpected. There will be unpredicted interruptions to your study plan in this final week: it's inevitable. But having a loose format placed on your revision will keep your mind intact. Additionally it will avoid the temptation to procrastinate.

First, compose a well thought-out plan for your study during the week. Print a copy of the Leaving Cert. timetable if you have not done so already. Highlight your subjects and stick it up in your study area.

This timetable is your study bible. If there is a gap between your second last and final exam, finish up your study of this final subject one week prior to the commencement of exams.

Begin this week concentrating on your second and third last exams. Be strategic. You should start your revision of the first few exams about five days prior to your first exam. Two days before the commencement of the exams, switch your concentration solely to the first subject being examined.

Do not define your hours of revision. Concentrate on topics instead of time. Replace thoughts such as "I'll do two hours of chemistry today" with plans like "I'll revise four titrations in volumetric analysis today". Time will pass regardless of how effective the study is.

Recognise counter-productivity and steer clear from it. Be active when studying. Avoiding sitting at a desk reading page after page until the words become blurred and your mind has wandered somewhere else far more exciting. Engage with the material you are covering.

The days before the exam require mental preparation. It is in your best interest to get sufficient rest and relaxation. Do not treat these days as a last attempt to cram the course into your frazzled mind. Instead take your study in your stride. Less stress, more success.

Weekends and gaps between your exams are crucial. Use these breaks sensibly. Catch up on sleep and sanity. Then get going again promptly. Do not lose focus in this final stretch. Motivation and desire will be tested. As the days pass by, more and more of your friends will be sitting their last exam, done and dusted. You're not. Do not get distracted or swayed by their end of exam socialisation. There is no time for celebration on your behalf yet.

My final piece of advice: relax! These exams are not designed to catch you out. You have put in hundreds of hours into each subject over the past two years. Their simple aim is to test your knowledge and understanding of the material covered in class. Have a little faith in yourself as you approach the final hurdle. Prove your knowledge in a clear coherent manner and success will follow.