5 Things You Should Know about the Leaving Cert
There are a lot of things about the Leaving Cert that no one really seems to tell you. You’re just sort of thrown into this pit of studying, homework, classes, college choices, etc., without actually really knowing what’s going on. From my experience of doing the Leaving Cert, there are a few things that I think every student should know to make their lives that bit easier. A big part of success in the Leaving Cert is having a positive mental attitude, and reminding yourself of the following points is essential in having a healthy, optimistic Leaving Cert cycle.
1. It's not all the hype everyone gives it
I can’t count the amount of times I was told that the Leaving Cert is ‘the hardest thing you’ll ever do’ or that ’you’ll remember it for the rest of your life’. It’s not the hardest thing you’ll ever do, remember that! You’re young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Whenever I got stressed or worried about the Leaving Cert, I just thought about my future and how I won’t even think about the Leaving Cert once I’m there.
With regards to remembering it for the rest of your life; you won’t. That’s one thing I’ll say; once the exam is over, don’t think about it anymore. It’s done, it’s over, so there’s no need to be stressing yourself out over something you have no power over anymore. I know it’s tempting, but dissecting the exams with their friends afterwards usually just makes people feel they did worse than they actually did!
2. You're not alone
Sometimes during the Leaving Cert, it seems like it’s just too much and you can’t handle it. Just remember, you’re not the first and you’re not the last person to sit the Leaving Cert! Students have felt exactly like you before, and they’ve made it through OK, so can you!
If you feel you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, an older sibling or friend perhaps. They can tell you how they managed to conquer the Leaving Cert, just like every other Irish student.
3. Putting in effort and studying hard does not make you a loser
It used to drive me insane when people would brag about doing ‘nothing at all’ for the Leaving Cert; not studying and barely doing the homework, but still get high marks. I can assure you almost all of these people are putting in effort and work. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of!
There seems to be a social stigma on studying, that if you do it, you’re sad and have no life. This is just ridiculous. Studying will get you better marks and it shows you are determined and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
4. It affects some people more than others
Everyone’s Leaving Cert experience is different, some people are very lucky and they sail through it with ease, others don’t, however. It’s important to consider this amongst your friends. Is everyone coping OK? I would recommend sitting down with your friends and asking them if they’re all doing alright.
Some people may feel really alone if they’re struggling while none of their friends are, others may feel pressured to do well by their family, others may worry about their CAO and whether they can get the points, everyone is different. The important thing is that you let your friends know that they have someone to talk to if it gets too much.
If you’re the one struggling, like I said, don’t feel afraid to reach out. The worst thing is holding back all your worries and emotions, because they will build up and cause you a lot of stress, which is the last thing you need at this time in your life!
5. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't go well
Although many make it out to be the biggest event in your life, it is not. Sometimes, the exams just won’t go your way, and you won’t get the results you were hoping for. These things happen, that’s life.
What’s important to remember is that it’s not the end of the world. If, on the day of the results, you don’t get the points you were hoping for, don’t lose hope! Remember, there are 2nd and 3rd round offers from the CAO too.
I have also heard countless stories about students getting into their preferred course in an unconventional way; by doing a pre-course for a year, by getting a place instead of a drop-out, etc. There’s a way around everything! If you’re truly determined, you’ll get there.
Sometimes, it’s important to just take a step back and put things in perspective. Is doing badly in the Leaving Cert the worst thing that could ever happen to you? No. Life goes on and a bad result is only a tiny little blip in the run of your life. There are more important things in life!
Finally, breathe and relax. You'll do great, you just need to be confident and focused. :)
All the best in your exams!
Eimear and the Studyclix Team