Exam Time

Leaving cert 101: advice on how to get through exams

With exams right around the corner and your last few weeks of school slowly coming to a close, it’s normal for any Leaving Cert student to feel emotional stressed and overwhelmed. At 17/18 you have to make decisions that can affect the next 3/4 years of your life. You’ve had a long year no doubt, but with the exam itself fast approaching, yours truly is imparting some wisdom and advice for you Leaving Certs out there, having gone through the process myself in 2015. Here are my top five tips on getting through your Leaving Cert in one piece.
1. Don’t trust predictions or leaks:
One of the best words of advice I received my Leaving Cert year: not to trust tipped topics, regardless of how sure your source is. You can’t trust leaks or someone’s predictions about the exam because you never really know what is going to come up until you’re in the exam. Please, for your own sake, cover all your bases and don’t base your study on tipped topics.
2. Your worth is not calculated based on how well you do:
This exam, I believe, is the worst way to test a person’s aptitude or intelligence. It’s a standardized testing that rewards those who can regurgitate information on demand, and use theorems in practice. It isn’t a fair measure of intelligence; a number of points you get is essential for one thing, getting into your course, but after that they are useless. I’ve sat in lecture halls and shared classes with people who got higher points than me and we’re both doing the exact same thing. Just because someone gets 600 points it doesn’t mean they’re going to be a doctor or a lawyer, they might want to be a secondary school teacher, a nurse, or in some cases they might end up in a journalism course with yours truly. Don’t be disheartened by this exam before you go in. Try your best and hopefully it takes you to the place you want.
3. Be prepared in case a paper doesn’t go your way:
The biggest fear amongst most students: what if the paper doesn’t go my way? Don’t panic, just take a minute breath and gather yourself together. If the topics seem hard, read over the questions again, you can make it work. It might not be the topic you had hoped for but if you make an effort and write something, you’ll get more marks than if you leave it blank. Never walk out on an exam if you think you can’t do it. Sit and try to make an attempt at an answer and if, in the end, you don’t get the result you wanted at least you tried. It’s better to have tried and failed than to do nothing at all and walk away.
4. Don’t let what anyone else is doing affect you:
There is always one person in every class who claims they study morning, noon and night. They’ve covered the course a hundred times over while you sit there revising for the third time. But the real story is that no matter how many hours of note making or how many revision books, grinds classes or courses you go to, none of it matters unless you walk away understanding a topic. You can sit through extra classes, revision courses and walk away knowing nothing, so don’t feel intimidated if you aren’t doing grinds or going to as many revision courses.
5. This time will pass and you’ll forget all about it:
Once you finish your Leaving Cert and get your results, it all becomes a memory. You’ll move on to do better things, like go to college, move away from home, get a job or travel. Time seems to fly by once you move on. For me, it feels like yesterday I was leaving for college and I’m at the halfway mark in my degree now. As important as this exam is, there will be tougher exams like college. Your Leaving Cert is a walk in the park compared to the pressure of college exams. The good thing is that at least you’ll adapt and once you hit college, you’ll be ready to take on those exams. These few weeks will be over in no time, you’ll have a summer off, and start the next adventure in September so don’t lose hope, it will all work out and pretty soon you’ll forget all about it.
To the class of 2017, good luck from the team here at Campus.ie and yours truly.
‘Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail’ – Michelle Obama.