Study Advice

10 Things NOT To Do In Your Junior Or Leaving Cert Exams

By Eimear Dinneen - 3 minute read

There are certain things in the exam that you should definitely do, but make sure you read these 10 don'ts of exam techniques, which are equally important!

DON'T panic

Easier said than done, we know, but it's important to try and keep level headed throughout the exam. One of the main reasons for stress at exam time is the lack of control. Students get stressed because they don't know what is coming up. One of the best things you can do to calm yourself is to visualize yourself in the exam hall. Reading the paper and picking out the questions you are going to do early on will help calm you as it removes the stress caused by the unknown of what's coming up.

DON'T worry about being penalized

Lots of students worry about making mistakes and worry about spelling words incorrectly. Remember, you’re being marked positively not negatively so everything you write is getting you marks.

DON'T leave out questions

From experience, the main reason students underperform in exams is not because they answer questions badly but because they leave out questions. As a rule of thumb, every long question you leave out will drop you by a grade.  

DON'T run out of time

Again, easier said than done, but managing your time in the exam is vital if you are not to leave out questions. Your teacher will probably give you a breakdown of how much time to spend on each question. A good trick is to write your question schedule with actual times onto the cover of your answer book while the papers are being handed out. This way, if you look at your watch and it’s say, 11:10, you know exactly how much of your exam you should have done.  Also, make sure you stick to your schedule, so many students run overtime perfecting answers maybe gaining 3 marks at the expense of not doing a whole 50-mark question.

DON'T be tired

Staying up late the night before an exam is not a good idea. You'll end up so tired in the exam you won't be able to work anything out.  Try and keep a regular sleep cycle so that you’re fully awake and ready to work when the exams start at 9:30 each morning.

DON'T get stuck on a question

If you get a particularly hard question don't sit there panicking about it. The best thing you can do is having a quick think about it, mark it with a highlighter and move on to another question. The chances are that by the time you come back to it your subconscious mind will have already set you up to make an attempt at it.

DON'T bother looking around the exam hall

One of the most common things students do, especially in exams they find difficult, is to look around and try to see how their classmates are doing. There is really no point in doing this and it is likely that seeing others furiously writing away will only serve to stress you further. Concentrate on your own exam and try and keep your focus on your own paper.

DON'T dwell

Once you finish an exam don't spend half the day worrying about what went wrong and how you could have improved it. Chatting to friends after every exam will only fill you with frustrating regrets. When you hand up your paper, forget about that subject. Your next focus is tomorrow's exam.

DON'T leave an exam early

There is always something you can do to improve your answers. Read back over your work and make sure you’ve answered all parts of all questions. Try to read your answers as if you were the examiner and you were correcting someone else's work. Remember the changes you make in these last few minutes could bring you up a grade.

DON'T panic

This tip is so important we'll say it again. If a really hard question or paper comes up it's likely every other student in Ireland will find it hard too. Very often the marking scheme will be made easier for harder exams. Stay positive and give each exam your best and everything will work out.

Best of luck in the exams!

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