5 Tips for Leaving Cert Exams from a Current Medical Student
8 months ago by Chris
So the dreaded time of the leaving cert exams has rolled around once again and I’m sure many of you are trembling in your seats at the mere mention of it. But, trust me when I say that I can completely relate with you. This time last year I was in your position, getting ready to sit the leaving cert, my head flooded with feelings of excitement and anxiety for what lay ahead. I know that feeling of nervous uncertainty and fear of the unknown, and that is why I’m here to share my top five tips for leaving cert exams with you, to help you through these challenging and exciting few weeks.
1. Focus on yourself
I think the most important thing at this point is that you really focus on yourself and ‘stay in your own lane’ as they say. Ultimately it is you who is going to be sitting the leaving cert exams and no amount of learning off essays that ‘Bill’ is doing or past paper questions that ‘Mary’ is doing is going to have an influence on your paper. Do your best to block out the noise of your peers’ anxious speculation and truly focus your time and energy on your own preparation. It’s all about you now and you have to be selfish.
2. Be Prepared
It is vital at this point that you are thoroughly familiar with the layout of the paper and aware of this years adjustments. As much as your teachers may have pounded this into you by now, there is no harm reviewing them for yourself to give yourself some reassurance. The more prepared you are for what you are about to face on the paper, the more calm and collected you will be, making you better able to answer the questions presented to you. Along those lines, once you have really familiarised yourself with what is coming up, it is then that you must develop a plan of attack, a strategy for how you are going to tackle the paper on test day. Identify the timings that suit you best and always ensure you have enough time to go back over your answers at the end. Perhaps focus on your strongest question first: I always found that this helped to ease my nerves and get me into the flow.
3. Be smart about your study
I’m sure you are all too aware at this point that time is ticking and therefore you must be very intentional about where you spend your time. Focus on guaranteed questions and do not waste time on the minor details. Perhaps contradictory to that, in subjects where you have a wide choice on the paper, such as biology, do not attempt to cover the whole course between now and the exam, rather, study a number of likely topics in depth such as respiration. Also, as much as you are told to avoid using predictions, you can take valuable and useful information from them. Allow them to guide you in your study, as although they are not definite, they can give you a better idea of where to spend your time and more importantly where not to!
4. Nurture your mind and your body
At this point, you have put in an immense amount of work academically. There is no doubt that you are peaking with your knowledge, but now is the time to also ensure that you are in the best mental, physical, psychological and emotional state possible. Take some time for yourself, whether that’s playing sports, listening to music or simply spending time with friends and family. Find something that takes your mind off the leaving cert and ensure you engage in it every day. It’s all about creating a positive environment from here on out so think about trying out a meditation or engaging in some positive self-talk! Although these may seem like foreign concepts now, I| cannot stress how powerful they are for directing your thoughts and optimising your mindset so they are well worth giving a go. I always found exercise to be really helpful for stress relief at the time of exams. Getting the blood flowing will not only help to ease your anxiety but will also ensure that your brain is functioning optimally.
5. Keep Positive
Finally, there is no doubt that a positive mindset is what is going to carry you through these next few weeks. It’s incredibly easy to lose momentum here as you are tested both physically and mentally but maintaining a positive mindset and believing in yourself is paramount to your success. Think about how far you have come. Rather than focussing on all the things you have yet to do, focus on all the work you have already put in up to this point. It is immense and you all deserve the credit for that. Go into the exams with confidence and the belief that you will succeed and perform to the best of your ability and you are half way there.
In closing I would like to remind you all that although this is undoubtedly the biggest and most important thing on your mind right now, it will soon pass. Like me you will look back and realise that it really wasn’t too bad. Try to enjoy the next few weeks. I know that may sound funny, but honestly looking back on the weeks of the leaving cert, I am filled with lots of happy memories. There is something very satisfying about being surrounded by your friends and sitting an exam that you all have been working so hard for. Soak in the happy moments and do your best not to take it too seriously.
Finally, I’d like to wish you all the very best of luck, not only in this exam but in your future studies and various endeavours. Go forward with confidence and the belief that you will succeed and I have no doubt that you will reap the rewards of your determination and hard work.
Written by Philippa, a past MedEntry student who achieved 625 points in her Leaving Cert and 100th percentile in HPAT.