Throughout my own Leaving Cert year I compiled a list of things that I wished I learned in 5th year and a list of things that I wish someone would have told me before the year all began, so here it goes…. Obviously all opinions are my own and are subject to my own experience so if you don’t agree with something I say that’s cool, you do you.
- Ease yourself into the study. I get it, you’re back to school maybe you want to get a head start already, or maybe you don’t care at all, either way start your study small. If you go to hard to fast you most likely will tire really quickly and never want to study for the rest of the year because you’re too tired. Yes, you should start week one, but ease yourself into it, use your first designated study time to make a plan for the week/month or entire year. This way if you’re not motivated to start you’ll have at least done day one’s work done and if you are motivated you will have a clear plan for the year ahead.
- When it comes to studying stay constant! It is really important to get into a good study routine because, believe me, once you have one it’s more difficult to break it than it is to keep it. It might sound strange but, I feel anyway, that the more you study the more motivated you feel to keep going with the study. This is why I think that starting your first study time by making a plan is a good idea because it already gets you in a routine and it makes it easier to study the nest day because you know where to start and you already have day one down.
- Ignore what everyone else is doing. No one else is going to sit your exam and only you will determine your own mark so don’t concern yourself with what all of your friends are doing. When it comes down to it, it is important to study what you need to study. If the person next to you has just learned all the poets in one night and has stayed up until half two in the morning doing it, good for them, this does not mean you are so far behind everyone and everyone else knows all the poets better than you. Be comfortable enough within your own ability to know that just because you haven’t learned something as quick as the person next to you doesn’t mean you haven’t learned it just as well.
- Nearly everyone is lying about the amount of studying they are doing. There is always going to be the person who has studied all night and there is always going to be the person who hasn’t studied at all. Realize that everyone is most likely a little worried when it comes to the amount of study they’re doing, so of course everyone is going to exaggerate the truth a bit to make themselves feel better or make someone else feel better. Either way, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Focus on yourself and your own work.
- Realize how much work you actually have done. Sometimes when everyone around you is talking about all the work they’ve done through out the year you can lose perspective and think that you have been doing nothing all year. If you have been going to school everyday you are doing 6 hours of work a day before homework and study. Throughout the year if you manage to do most if not all of your homework you have been doing work, just because it’s not considered study doesn’t mean you haven’t been doing anything. I think it is really important to take a step back and realize that just because you didn’t look at every chapter right before the exam doesn’t mean that the information is not in your head somewhere. Give yourself some credit!
- Know when to take your breaks. Really the breaks between study and work are more important than the work itself in my opinion. If you don’t give yourself space to breath between study you will tire yourself out. When you know yourself that you need a break, take one. Don’t take a break and think about school all the time either do something completely different and take your mind off the work.
- When it comes to past papers and the beloved examinations.ie, use it wisely. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Realistically you shouldn’t look at the marking schemes while doing the questions yourself, there is really no point. Do the question yourself, then check the marking scheme and learn what you don’t know. This is an effective way of learning what the examiner actually wants from you but, also learning what you don’t know yourself. Use the marking schemes but don’t abuse them.
- Realize that you are not going to be miserable this year. I feel like this is a common misconception of sixth year and doing the Leaving Cert. Yes, you might have down days but if you look at the Leaving Cert year as a whole you will actually be completely fine. You are finally the oldest year in the school, you may now have extra privileges and freedom that other years don’t have and nearly everyone is turning 18 so there might be a few parties here and there. Down days are normal for everyone, but don’t be surprised if you feel fine a lot of the time too. Pretty much any feeling in sixth year is normal.
- Be nice to everyone else around you! Everyone is gong through the same thing so look out for one another. Be there for people who are not necessarily in your group of friends. The year is do much nicer when everyone is there for one another . Offer a chat to anyone and everyone, sometimes people just want to share a problem for a minute.
- Go outside! This helps so much! Between school and work at home you might not actually be outside a lot. It is so important to exercise in some form , if this is going for a 20 minute walk that’s cool too, but you really do need to get some fresh air every day.
- Eat healthily! This is something I learned the hard way. It is so annoying when everyone around you is telling you what you should do leaving cert year, so I just ignored almost everyone , but I wish I listened when I was told to stick to a better diet. Don’t use the leaving cert as an excuse to eat unhealthy food more than usual. Yes, I am all for the ‘treat yo self’ but it doesn’t always have to be with food. Make sure that you are eating enough also, I forgot to eat so many times and replaced a meal or a snack with a carbonated drink. It can be difficult to get it right but try to keep up a normal balanced diet and know when to treat yourself and know when not too. (I know I sound like the people who I used to ignore all leaving cert year :’) )
You can all do this. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.
Sending you all virtual hugs ❤