Leaving Cert strategy: it's a marathon, not a sprint - Susan HayesCulleton


Susan recorded a quick video on the stunning, scorching seafront at Spinola Bay in Malta - not to rub it in, but to remind you that it's a marathon, not a sprint!



Or watch the video on our #SavvyTeenAcademy Facebook page.

In eight months, or in a year and eight months, you're going to be taking your Leaving Cert. For many students, that perspective can be very stressful. You might be bracing yourself for eight miserable months... But there is absolutely no need to be miserable! And it can lead to behaviours that are not ideal for your success. To try and release the stress, you might think you need to study 24/7. Or you might start to procrastinate because the pressure is too high.

Read more: How to banish stress with this 5-step strategy


You will be ready in plenty of time if you take time off regularly

However, remember, you still have many months until the big day. That's your opportunity. Many students feel a mild panic as they're afraid that they're not ready for their Leaving Cert just now. But that's fine! You don't need to be ready today. You have at least 8 months to get ready. Time works in your favour here. All you need to do is focus on adopting good, strategic study habits.

You can also trust that your teachers are doing their best to get you ready in plenty of time for the exam. They have taken many generations of students through the Leaving Cert successfully, so if you follow their instructions, you can relax and work on incremental improvements. Slow and steady will win the race!

Read more: Use this exam technique throughout the year to prepare efficiently


Studying all day, every day is not a good idea

When you're faced with this pressure, a temptation might be to hunker down and say "Right! No parties and no time off until May! Study study study!" While you might think you are stacking the odds in your favour with this, it's actually counter productive. You can't keep your head in the books for eight months straight (or a year and eight months straight!).

This will lead to one of two things:

- Either you actually do spend eight months studying all the time. While your self-discipline is admirable, it might come at too great a cost. You will burn out and you will not be at your best when the exam comes around. All your hard work will have been for nothing if you're exhausted on the day of the exam...

- Or you will resent that slave driver mentality, and you will rebel against it. You will start procrastinating and putting studying off, and that's not good either. You still need to study regularly to do well in the exam.

Related: How parents can help their students through exam revision

Studying for exam

The best long-term strategy for exam success

So what's the remedy? Remember to take quality time off to recharge. Plan your study sessions efficiently, study hard during these sessions, and then take time to relax, spend time in nature, do your favourite hobbies. If you do this, you will be less tempted to procrastinate, for several reasons:

- You can tell yourself "Yes, I have to study now, but I can look forward to playing sports / reading a book / playing my favourite video game later on."

- Relaxation is essential to both your physical and mental health. You will be in a better frame of mind to study over the long term if you take regular, quality breaks (that means doing something truly relaxing and not scrolling through social media)


If you do this, you can actually look forward to a great year of growth: you will learn so many fascinating things, you will feel confident and ready for the exam, and you will enjoy the process thanks to great moments of relaxation.