Why the final term of 5th year is time to get focused

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You are fast approaching the end of 5th year, and this stage of the year represents a golden opportunity to get on track for your final year.  When you start in September – there will be two pressing issues that will quickly dominate ….1) Study and 2) Applications. 

In this guest blog post Berni Sheridan, a career guidance teacher and founder of thestudentscoach.com shares her her advice for 5th year students going into the final summer before 6th year. 

Put in the work ahead of the summer exams

There is a school of thought that says what you achieve in fifth year is a strong indicator of the results you will achieve in 6th year.  I don’t buy into this but I will say, my vast experience working with senior cycle students definitely shows that students who put little effort into 5th year, definitely suffer in 6th year and make the whole experience much more stressful.

Half of the senior cycle is almost complete for you, so It’s important that you use the summer exams to test how well you know that content – because for the most part – you will not be going over this content again.  So ….start a study plan now, set your goal grade for each subject…and then do the work to make sure you achieve your goals.    

Starting your final year with a good result in the bag for fifth year really gives you confidence going forward .and where the leaving certificate is concerned, confidence is everything!

Think Applications

There is so much you can do from now to the end of the summer to help clarify what career of choice is right – or not – for you. 

A prospectus or even on open-day will never replace the value of taking the following types of action:

Summer Schools

UCD and NUIG run excellent summer schools – usually one day per course.  They are designed specifically for fifth year students.   Running in June of each year, they offer taster lectures, tours, talks from graduates and workshops.

An excellent way of finding out if the area in question is right for you!

Work Experience

If you are considering a particular career, and thus far you have not had work experience in this area – the summer is a good time to look for this.  Most students tend to be looking for work experience throughout the TY academic year, so in the summertime, you have less completion. 

Remember; work experience is vital for a UCAS application but more importantly it truly gives you an insight into the career your considering. 


Students will often say to me that for various careers, it is not feasible to look for work experience for reasons of confidentiality e.g Psychology.  However, you can interview a specialist in your area.  My experience is that students really benefit from this experience.  Before you meet with them it is important that you write your list of questions down first and then write down the answers.

Personal Statements

If you are considering a UCAS or European application, and every year I meet many students who regret that they didn’t consider such applications …you need to do your personal statement now.  Do not leave it until September as there is so much pressure on at that time, it becomes a stress for many students!

And last but by no means least ….….have a fabulous summer!

About the Author

Berni Sheridan has been working in the area of career guidance for almost 10 years with particular emphasis on the senior cycle process. She is passionate about helping students gain clarity on their career of choice - setting goals and a program of work to enable them to reach their goals. You can find out more about Bernie at her website thestudentscoach.com

Berni is running a unique support programme for students about to start 6th year and their parents. The programme will guide you through some really valuable advice at the key stages of 6th year. The programme will  take place at the end of August in Dlr LexIcon – The Studio, Dun Laoighaire, Dublin. For more information on the event contact Berni on 087 202 7687 or check out thestudentscoach.com

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