If you’re like many 6th years the reality of the Leaving Cert is starting to hit you and you’re counting down the days until you’re finally free. There’s still a lot ahead of you however, and now is a crucial time to get your act together. I won’t say that the fun and games are over (because you’re still allowed to chill out and have fun), but it’s important that you start to get serious and realise that your behaviour and attitude now could affect your Leaving Cert results and therefore your life in the future. Here are some changes I would recommend making in your life:
1. Start studying
No ifs, no buts, just do it, trust me. There’s just too much on the curriculum and subject syllabuses for you to just ‘wing it’ on the day of the exam. If you’ve been studying since 5th year; great, keep up the good work. If not; start. You’ll thank yourself later when you won’t have to cram all the dates, numbers, theorems, quotes, essays, grammar, etc., the night before your exams, because you’ll have all of that information stored from studying.
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you have a good intention of studying, as you’ve joined Studyclix, so good on you! Use Studyclix as much as you can, it’s really helpful for interacting with other students, familiarising yourself with the exam papers and getting the most from your study.
2. Ignore the stigma associated with studying
Are you afraid to start studying or admit to studying because you’ve heard people say that it’s ‘uncool’, for ‘swots’ or a waste of time? Forget about them, studying is a must and the people that say otherwise won’t be getting the same brilliant results as you will come August.
Start putting effort into your homework. If you’re only half-doing your homework just so you have something to give up to your teacher at the end of the day, you’re wasting your time. Often, and especially in 6th year, your homework will be questions from test papers, which is undoubtedly good practise for the exams. As tedious as homework can be sometimes, it prepares you for the real deal, so if you don’t put any effort into your essays, exam questions, etc., you won’t see as good results at the end of the year. Homework is like a form of studying, so don’t slack on it.
3. Develop a positive attitude
If you’re negative and hopeless about everything, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure, so what’s the point? Everyone makes it through the Leaving Cert, so can you! If it’s getting heavy and stressful, take a break and just remember that this isn’t long term, it’ll all be over in a few months. You CAN do it!
4. Stop caring about what others think
Trust me, I wasted years of my secondary school life worrying over what others thought of me and my actions. It’s one of my big regrets, letting myself be oppressed. I wouldn’t admit to studying and I wouldn’t speak up in class because I was worried certain people would judge me for trying.
I wish I could go back and tell my former self to cop on and forget about these people. This year is for you and you only and if anyone tries to mock you for having ambition, then just pity them.
5. Start a healthy lifestyle
This includes eating the right foods, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep. I know it seems tempting during 6th year to just pig out all the time and laze around in the house all day because you have ‘no time’ to exercise.
However, it’s so important that your diet and lifestyle stays healthy and normal, both for your body and health, and for improving your study. Eating too much sugary, fatty foods mixed with stress can really damage your skin, so if you need a snack, as unsatisfying as they may seem, some nuts and some fruit are really the better choice. Nuts are especially great because they contain Omega 3 which helps brain development.
Try not to consume too much caffeine. I know the temptation to have an energy drink or a coffee is hard to fight if you need to fit in some last-minute study or finish an essay, but it’s REALLY bad for your health. If you really need to stay awake, an apple has been proven to keep you awake better than a coffee. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend losing sleep over anything, even if you need to finish an essay or assignment. Losing sleep will affect your concentration in school and could have worse effects on your school life than not finishing the essay could have.
Finally, exercising releases happy hormones called endorphins that improve your positive mental attitude and will make you feel better. It also keeps your body running healthily, so I would try to fit in a bit of exercise everyday if you can, it needn’t be anything big!
6. Get organised
Whether your study area is your bedroom, a study or a specific room, it’s important to keep it tidy and organised. Not only will it help you find all your notes and equipment easier, it’ll make your mind less scattered and more focused if you’re looking at a clean and tidy space, making your study more effective.
I would also recommend organising all your folders; allocating different sections in the folder for each section of the exam, e.g. a different section for aural, oral, comprehension and essays for your French folder. If you’re anything like me, having everything laid out clearly in front of you will make you more motivated to study. Set aside a day, evening or weekend where you can make up flash cards, study timetables, revision posters, mind maps, etc. for each subject so you can refer to these whenever you need it in the months to come. Planning ahead will make all the difference.