Five tips to help reduce Leaving Cert exam stress and anxiety

By Mark Keane

With the Leaving Cert starting tomorrow, Wednesday, the director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has shared five tips to ensure students stay calm throughout the exam period. 

Director, Clive Byrne, has recommended the following tips to reduce exam stress and anxiety for the throngs of students about to start their Leaving Cert, with tips including putting the phone down and a good night’s sleep. 

pablo 1fin Avoid staying up late to cram

Although it may seem that staying up late until the early hours to cram is required, Mr Byrne does not advise it as students will “wake up absolutely exhausted" and have "immense difficulty" recalling any information in the exam hall.

Proper night's sleep

“Getting a good night’s sleep before an exam is undoubtedly the single most important thing you can do,” he said. Aim for eight or nine hours sleep before an exam.

Avoid caffeine

Eating a poor diet, for example crisps, pizzas and energy drinks, is to be avoided as it “can wreak havoc not only on your physical health, but your state of mind”.

Mr Byrne points out that the other problem with consuming an excess of caffeine as part of your Leaving Cert preparation is that “you won’t be able to satisfy your caffeine cravings in an exam”.

Study plan

For students who're lucky enough to have a few days gap between some exams, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director recommends using this opportunity to “hone in on your weakest areas rather than just refreshing what you already know well.”

He also recommends to use flash cards, speak notes aloud, and to write out notes rather than type them, during any exam gaps.

At the end of the day, “a study plan is only as good as your study environment,” according to Mr Byrne.

Turn off the phone

Avoid noisy family members, televisions, computers and anything else that might distract you, including mobile phones, which he stresses students should “turn off, lock it away if you must”.  

Regular breaks

“Take regular breaks and reward your work by doing something that you enjoy. Listen to music, go for a walk, and talk to your friends and family.”

Mr Byrne concludes his Leaving Cert exam tips by saying that students shouldn’t be pushing themselves to the "edge of a nervous breakdown", with students needing to be "calm and collected on the day".

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