If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t delay sign up to our free Exam Stress Support Group which runs on Thursdays at 6pm for the month of June.
- Developing academic skills
This will prepare students to cope with the demands of their subjects and make revision easier. Pacing the work throughout the academic year and staying on top of your notes, readings and revision summaries will reduce the pressure of exams.
- Exam preparation skills
If you’ve done the work you needed to, you can feel confident that you’re in a good position to perform well. Try to stay positive and think of exams as an opportunity to show what you have learned, rather than a scrutiny of your abilities. Remember to answer the question you’re asked, rather than dumping everything you know about the topic on the page.
- Things to avoid
Avoid your phone an hour before you go to bed, as the blue light can disrupt your sleep. Keep your phone the other side of your bedroom and keep it on flight mode when you’re asleep, if possible, so that notifications don’t wake you up. Avoid alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Don’t eat too much fatty or sugary foods because they cause energy peaks and slumps. Avoid procrastinating. It’s normal to want to avoid stress and engage in things that bring you pleasure, but procrastinating will actually exacerbate stress because it will leave you feeling less prepared for exams. Create a timetable for the subjects you’re revising and make the most of the time to have left to do last-minute revision.
- Control your anxiety on the day
Use deep breathing techniques if you’re panicking during the exam. Remind yourself that you’ve prepared for this moment. If your anxiety is increasing, put your pen down, close your eyes, breathe in deeply for five seconds and exhale slowly for five seconds. Repeat this until you feel calmer, then pick up your pen and start again.
- Keeping things in perspective
While everyone wants to pass every subject, and students should prepare as much as they can for each topic, sometimes things don’t go well on the day, for a variety of reasons. This can be very disappointing for students and for their parents, but it’s not the end of the world. If you don’t get the results you wanted on the first try, you can always repeat, or you can consider different options you put down on the CAO form.
The Leaving Cert, in particular, is a very difficult set of exams. It is a unique blend of challenges for young people. In college, you will still have to do exams but they will be in an area you’re more interested in, if the course you chose is in an area you are stimulated by. The Leaving Cert can be particularly challenging for students because of the broad range of topics it covers, many of which don’t interest the individual, which can make these topics more laborious and onerous to study.
We need sleep to function properly, ideally eight hours of sleep. It’s important to avoid caffeine before you sleep. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after you drink it, so try to avoid coffee after 2pm or 3pm for a better sleep. Lavender drops on your pillow can help you relax, and mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing and stretching before bed can help you sleep. Camomile tea or the Pukka Sleepy Time tea can also help you unwind.
- Seeking help
Students who are feeling overwhelmed by stress during exam season can sign up for the free Exam Stress support group which is run by Turn2Me on Thursdays at 6pm. Students can go to Turn2Me.ie, create a free account and simply sign up to this support group. This free support group is also open to parents who are worried about their children sitting exams.