Tips for students as the Leaving Cert nears

Ahead of the Leaving Cert. you can build motivation, good habits and proven study skills, says Michelle Flynn, Career Guidance Counsellor and Career Advisor at
Tips for students as the Leaving Cert nears

 It can be hard to reinvigorate yourself for the last hurdle towards the exams, but now is an essential time to reset and renew, says Michelle Flynn. Picture: Stock

ARE you a Leaving Certificate student - or the parent of one - and feeling a lapse in motivation as we approach the last hurdle with just weeks to go until the written state examinations commence?

The Easter holidays is a time for a break for many, but it is a busy time for 6th year students as language orals ran in the first week of April.

Also, some practical submission dates are looming and it is a good opportunity to get some study done and get organised.

This is against a backdrop of deciding on CAO choices and courses and the uncertainty of what September, 2023, will hold.

Developing habits

You need to be realistic in terms of the two weeks of Easter, you won’t have achieved everything. It’s a good idea to start habit building from this point onwards.

If you build into your lifestyle good habits between now and the end of the exams, it will help with motivation and overall wellbeing. It’s a marathon to the end of exams, not a sprint.

If you haven’t built in these habits, start now; a clear study space, removing your phone from this space, drinking water, healthy eating, proper sleep, a way to unwind with exercise and talking to family and friends.

Building self-motivation

Some parents and students at report feelings of motivation lapses, or for some no motivation at all.

This feeling is particularly pertinent amongst our 6th and 5th years as a substantial amount of their education was against the Covid backdrop of self-directed learning and little classroom interaction or guidance support.

After finishing the oral exams there can be a sense of complacency or even a sense of deflation.

 It can be hard to reinvigorate yourself for the last hurdle, but now is an essential time to reset and renew.

Motivation for some stems from having a clear lack of goals, maybe both short term and long term. Without goals, it’s hard to motivate yourself.

Confidence is also a huge part of motivation; you need to be confident in your abilities and capability to reach what you want.

To give an example, at recently parents of a very intelligent student contacted me highlighting very poor study ethic and no clear idea of what she wanted and what she reported to want was out of character.

We worked together and it became clear that the student had given up on study because she believed that there was no way she would get the points for the course in occupational therapy.

She wasn’t saying that she wanted this course as she felt that people would be disappointed when she didn’t get it.

We reset and started again, worked on her confidence in obtaining her dream career by looking at other entry routes, and listed her courses correctly on her CAO so that she does access her career one way.

It can be very difficult for students to motivate themselves, especially during the holiday period. To get into a better motivated mind frame, try to keep a picture in mind or physically on your wall of where you would love to be in September, also a list of things you will do in the summer after the exams.

It is better to be intrinsically motivated and supported by parents rather than trying to please people.

Study advice for the last term

Be clever with your study approach. Be organised with a good structure and system. If you can, develop a new study plan with blocks and breaks.

Techniques of recalling should also be in your study plan. It’s a good idea to get some study in in the morning when you are fresh. The return to school can mean you will be tired in the evenings and will not retain as much.

Conduct a study review/audit of your subjects, what worked well and what didn’t? It is imperative that you highlight your weakest subjects but also the weakest areas of each subject, plan for and prioritise these.

Your pre-exam results are a great resource for you to analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Make notes of any issues you had whilst doing your pre-exams for example timing issues. Talk to teachers about these early.

Practically, you can make out your Leaving Cert plan, what way the subjects are running. Work out the marks for each section and make sure to give added value to the highest weighting questions.

The power of now is a great mantra to have. You should approach these next few weeks with a positive mindset. This is a huge bank of opportunity for you to take right now.

You are creating your future happiness and fulfilment.

If you approach it negatively and see it is a burden, you will distract yourself from reaching your goals.

Seek out extra help if you need it, keep the good habits that are working and add on new ones.

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