Not being close enough that you can start preparing to walk into the exam hall but not having enough time to thoroughly go through folders of notes.
Directly from Malta via FaceBook Live, I shared my reflections on the emotional rollercoaster that is those final couple of hours leading up to the exam.
1. Be patient with those who are wishing you well.
With well wishes flooding in from friends and family and promises of candles lit for you, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the attention this time brings. Take two moments of empathy and just spare them a thought. It really isn't easy for them to know exactly what to say. Although you may feel like they're making it worse, you'd probably feel neglected if they weren't knocking down the doors with love.
2. Unstructured days and comforting parents.
As many of you will realise, the days leading up to the exams can feel different from the lead up to other exams. Personally, I really felt that my days had become unstructured. Being able to study at home can bring great benefits, however, not having someone telling you what to do and when to do it can cause feelings of unease. It never worked for me then and even now, I don't chose to work from home even thought I could!
In this time, between the graduation mass and the first exam, you'll find your parents might be slightly more uncomfortable than normal.
This is the first time that they will be in a position where "they can't sort it out for you". They can feel in such a powerless position and I'm so glad they took me to one side to calm me down... for all our sakes!
3. It's helpful to actually get what you need from people rather than get irritated that they're not reading your mind.
Maybe it's a cups of tea at a certain time of the day, simply asking to have your favourite meal for dinner or some non-Leaving Cert talk for a few hours, communicate it! You can also send them this link to an article on 5 practical tips for parents to help you through exam revision. Anything that can make them feel like they are helping will make this time easier for everyone.
4. Last-minute cramming.
Don't stress yourself out with trying to cram at this stage. You'll only add to the emotional rollercoaster that you're already on. Go over the notes you feel you need to look at. Don't let yourself get carried away with trying to go through textbooks in one day.
5. The first day.
You've made it to the exam hall, and you've received your English Paper 1, you're going to panic. It may even feel inevitable as you read this, but as they say, "Embrace the fear... and do it anyway!". As part of my 5 steps to control and dissolve paralysing exam fear, open the paper and just read the questions. Your brain will kick into autopilot as "googles" through your mind for the information that you have to attempt everything. Once you've done that, get stuck in. Start with the question you are absolutely most comfortable with. This will get the ball rolling. Allowing you to settle in and giving your brain time to search for the answers to other questions.
6. Take it one exam at a time.
For many of you, you may only have one exam on the first day. You'll find this a bit jarring at first. I found it bizarre! You'll know that you'll have done something hugely productive, and hugely impactful, but it'll only be one o'clock.English Paper one will be behind you.You'll be finished the first day of the Leaving Cert. Once you've processed what you've just done, you'll have to step back into the study zone and get stuck into preparing for English Paper two.
Acknowledge the achievement of completing each exam as it occurs so you can move on to focusing on the next one. And before you know it, you'll be finished. Personally, I really enjoyed those days of being able to showcase three years of work (yes, in my opinion, TY totally counts) and then know that I had the freedom to never think about all those things again (even though I did... lots of times).
7. There's life after the Leaving Cert.
This may seem like the most obvious thing in the world. However, the Leaving Cert blinkers that go on during this time often stop you from seeing past the final exam. Directly from that night in Malta when I reflected on life after the Leaving Cert, the exams are simply a stepping stone so that you can get started on the rest of your life.
Remember that your future is within reaching distance. Whether you aim to do a PLC, go to university, or do an internship, there are so many incredible opportunities that lie ahead. The upcoming exams are your doorway to the rest of your life, so take the time to get them right.
Good luck and Stay Savvy!