It’s the merry month of May, leaving cert exams are looming and the sun is teasing you through the window. The last thing you want to do is crawl into some dark place and feel the fear under a mountain of books. The second last thing you want to do is read about how to keep calm and carry on studying because you already know the basics:  make a study plan, stick to it, eat well, sleep well and take lots of exercise during your study breaks. The thing is knowing and doing are two different things and I believe the only thing that gets us through exams, and every event in life for that matter, is to do what you have to do and then do your best.

Allow stress to work in your favour.

The reality is there is nothing easy about exams. I can still remember the sheer panic that consumed me in the weeks leading up to exam time but the truth is I still get the hibbie jibbies when I have to meet an urgent dead line or attend to things that crop up in life that are not very pleasant. It’s a well known fact; a little stress is good for you. Probably, if I didn’t feel it, I would get nothing done! So allow stress to work in your favour. Let it motivate you to get some work done. Before you start, reinforce motivation by visualising and getting excited about your goal: a good grade, recognition and praise from family or peers, and party time when it’s all over.

Make every day count. You have a good chunk of May left to prepare for the exams. There will be days you will get frustrated, fed up and want to run away but if you break up the studying in doable amounts and focus on what you want to get done each day you will find by the end of the month you will be less panicked and more prepared for the exams in June.

Do what you have to do. Don’t waste energy thinking how exams are cruel, horrible and unfair. Put that energy into focusing and committing to the task in hand. Thinking about it is worse than doing anything so pick the best time to study for you, clear a space, get comfortable, get the books out and get cracking. Social media, friends, the world will just have to wait. Yes, this will call for discipline. You’ll probably suffer social media withdrawal symptoms but you will stress less over the exams because you will be studying your stuff. Do what you have to do to help you: switch your devices OFF, give the charger to your parents/carers, agree with friends not to use social media during certain times. Take control of your time to focus on the task in hand.

Do your best. We are all different and we are not all academic. Instead, some of us are creative, musical, sporty and potential entrepreneurs. Exams will never reflect who you are so it’s important to keep the exams in perspective. I came across this quote lately. “The only results that matter are the results you get from the doctor.” It drives a valuable message home.  The Leaving Cert is not a life or death matter so don’t treat it as such. Keep grounded, keep yourself focused and keep yourself well. Sticking to a study plan and taking regular breaks to have fun and relax will help you do your best.  Good Luck!