The Leaving Cert could be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be that bad if you approach it the right way. Firstly, you really need to study regularly. It is very important that you learn from class to class and always keep on top of your work. Take small breaks between studying. Keep away from Facebook, etc., because they are a huge distraction. Try not to completely abandon your work over the summer. Try to study things that you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like studying, so if you like drawing, perhaps practice drawing diagrams or maps etc.
During the school week, try to do your homework but also find some time to study. Look up resources online for the subjects you do. There is plenty resources for teachers to use, but these could be very helpful to students too, eg. slss website or ncca. Read examiner’s reports to identify common mistakes and avoid them. Work with exam papers, even if the teacher doesn’t give you them to do for homework. Don’t be afraid to move ahead and work through the exam papers at your own pace. Get familiar with all marking schemes to see what answers you are expected to write and how marks are distributed. This is important so that you write enough information, particularly for your factual subjects, e.g. Biology.
During the week before the exams, make sure that you get enough sleep. You can’t be tired going into the exam, because you won’t perform as well as you could. You should get good rest particularly before subjects like English, Geography and History, where you have a lot to write, because if you’re tired you might not write as fast as you can and you don’t want to run out of time.
Timing is very important in the exam. Bring in your own watch. Know exactly how much time to spend on each question. A good way of figuring this out is by looking at how much marks are given for each question. It is obvious that you should spend more time on a question that carries more marks.
In the exam always read the questions very carefully and make sure that you understand them. This is particularly important if you have a choice on the paper. You need to read all parts of questions carefully to make the right choice for yourself. Avoid jumping in at a question, doing half of it and the realising that you can’t do the rest and you waste time. However, don’t be afraid to take a moment to think.
Eating good food is super important. By good food I don’t necessarily mean healthy food. I mean food that you like. You are going to be stressed out and anxious, so you should eat your favourite foods to make life a bit easier for yourself. Forget about diets, etc. Just focus on doing your best in the exam, because then you will have plenty of time to loose the extra weight, if any even appears…
Try to be positive about this whole experience. Think about what you know and answer the questions as best as you can. If you work hard, it will pay off and once the leaving cert is finished you will be free for good. No more uniforms or school. There really is a life after the Leaving Cert!
So I’m finally finished the leaving cert. As I sealed my exam booklet closed this morning I felt the freedom! No more uniform, no more of the listening Irish tape, no more secondary school (Hopefully). I never thought that after 6 years in secondary school it would all come down to this, it doesn’t matter who your friends are, what you’ve done in the school just simply how you perform on the day.
Looking back on the exams it was only maths paper 2 that I was thrown by. I am content with how I performed in the others knowing that there wasn’t much more I could have achieved by an extra day or extra cramming. The papers that I did were mostly rounded and gave everyone an equal chance. 2012 definitely was the year of surprises however with many people’s predictions not coming up in English, the Maths Paper 2 difficulty and the Irish Paper 1 change.
During the mocks the tiredness wasn’t really a factor, however during the leaving cert it really hits in, the build up and doing the actual exams are physically draining and a good nights sleep before every exam is needed. There’s no point pulling an all nighter, it won’t do you any good the next morning when you’re tired and find it hard to concentrate. A final word of advice for any future leaving certs, revise, revise all year, start as you mean to go on. If you start the year on a good note you’re more than likely going to finish it the same. As my principal often used to say “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Even though it’s an important year still remember to have a good time! I wish everyone who still has exams the best of luck! Aoife 🙂
Please note: blog posts reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union. Blogs are updated daily by 6.30 pm on scheduled examination dates