Top Tips For Tackling The Exams

Student doing Exam


The Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle exams are set to get underway on June 8th.

With that in mind our Guidance Counsellor Aoife McArdle has some practical tips to help students successfully navigate their way through the examination process:

Before the exam:

Practise previous exam questions

  • You can either practise writing answers to time or practise planning answers (perhaps a more efficient use of time)


Take care of yourself

  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Use strategies to sleep – and even if you don’t sleep much the night before the exam, you can still perform
  • Keep a balanced diet, especially a good breakfast the morning of an exam
  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water
  • Keep up regular exercise, even walking

The night before an exam

  • Prepare everything you need for the exam, calculator, spare pens etc.


On the day of the exam:

Don’t talk about the exam outside the exam hall

  • Talking to others about the exam immediately before isn’t likely to be helpful.  Others’ anxiety can be infectious.  Everyone prepares differently.

Stay calm and positive

  • Take your time.
  • Keep breathing.
  • Brainstorm or just write random words/doodle rather than sit frozen.
  • Focus on breathing out rather than breathing in, breathing out smoothly, slowly but without strain.

Take your time

  • Give yourself planning time.
  • You don’t have to spend the whole time writing.  You can spend time thinking
  • Good exam answers are not always long answers.

Answer the correct number of questions

  • Read any instructions carefully.
  • Calculate the time for each question to avoid answering too many by mistake or too few because you run out of time.
  • Answering a question even roughly will give you more marks than not answering it at all and more marks than perfecting the previous answer.

Think like an examiner: answer the question asked

  • Not the question you think you were asked or the question you wish you had been asked
  • Pay attention to the question rather than writing everything you know about.


After the exam

  • Talking about the exam afterwards is likely to be unhelpful.  There can be many different approaches to the same question.  Once your paper is handed in, let it go. If you have another exam coming up move your focus on to that.
  • If you have time between exams make sure to do something you enjoy as a reward: sit in the sun, have a coffee, go for lunch with friends, listen to music – whatever helps you to unwind.
  • When the exams are over Let them go – enjoy the present moment rather than dwelling on the past.