How you can stay motivated during exam year (Part 2)

In day two of our week long series, teacher and wellbeing author ALAN WHITE shares some advice on how students can keep motivated - one of the biggest challenges ahead
How you can stay motivated during exam year (Part 2)

Every student will be different however there are some simple ways to both become and remain motivated. Picture: Stock

FOR many students, one of the biggest challenges is keeping motivated throughout sixth year.

This is a very demanding year where young people will experience successes and failures. They will hear criticism, be reminded they are not working to their potential or could do better. All of this along with a heavy workload would challenge anyone to remain focused and motivated.

We need to keep in mind that students approach the exams with varying outcomes in mind. Some are motivated to get high results as they have identified a college course that they want to pursue, some still have no idea what they want to do and are working to their best of their ability, so they have options in the future.

More however are constantly worrying if they will even pass the exams and find it hard to see a value in sitting them. Every student will be different however there are some simple ways to both become and remain motivated.

Positive Emotion

In order to stay motivated we need to feel positive emotion when we are working towards a goal. When we experience success, no matter how small, we feel positive emotions which helps to motivate us to keep pushing forward and working to achieve success.

Many students often don’t value the small successes they achieve when they are making progress. This is because they have an all or nothing mindset, where they believe that they should know everything and be able to do everything before they can consider themselves successful.

However, it is important that you people learn the value of progress and acknowledge the achievements they make whether big or small.

Examples of this can be asking students to reflect on their learning and look at how far they have come, not only over the last few months but also since the beginning of fifth year. By reflecting on their progress, they will be able to see what they have achieved and maintain motivation to continue working hard.

Other ways that students can experience positive emotion is by acknowledging when they understand a concept or task within a subject that they found difficult at first. By doing this they learn that they have the ability to overcome challenges and gain an understanding of challenging subject material.

Valuing Effort

There will be many days over the coming months when students will feel that they are not making progress and find schoolwork and revision difficult and slow. It is important that students understand that these days are not a waste of time, and they are continuing to make progress even if its not evident at the time.

Learning to value effort can help maintain and even increase our motivation especially during the more challenging times.

By valuing effort students will learn to understand that although they might feel like they are not progressing as quickly as they would like, they are doing the best that they can and making a good effort every day. This will motivate them to begin again the next day as well as instil a sense of confidence that they will begin to see progress and results if they persist.

Small Acts of Persistence

Another way to stay motivated is by being persistent. However, to stay persistent over a long period of time, students need to see value in completing tasks rather than a burden in their day. Some days we are able to give everything of ourselves to the things we need to do that day.

Other days when we feel tired or unmotivated, we might find it difficult to get anything done. On those days its important to persist and get some tasks completed. Even if its only a small number or just one task that students manage to compete, it can still give a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that a day wasn’t wasted.

Improving Productivity and Concentration

To be motivated we must feel like we are being productive, and this requires the ability to concentrate fully on what we need to do. As we all know the world is full of distractions, with many social media platforms using short clips to ensure users engage and use their service for longer. This form of entertainment can affect our ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.

In order to improve concentration some thing students could do are:

· Have a clean and tidy workspace · Resolve not to bring their phone or any other device with them when studying.

· Stick to doing one task at a time.


Rewarding ourselves is an important factor in staying motivated and students should build this into their mindset when working towards the exams. Rewards can be anything that we look forward to such as our favourite food, time on our devices or watching our favourite TV programme at the end of a hard day.

There will be ups and downs over the coming months and not everyday will be easy for Leaving Cert students, however staying persistent and acknowledging even small successes will help them to stay focused, concentrated, and motivated.

Alan White is a second level teacher, 6th Year Head and wellbeing author at Bishopstown Community School. He also facilitates wellbeing workshops for companies and organisations. For more information visit linkedin Alan White or facebook Changes Wellbeing

Tomorrow: Study skills and staying organised

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