Advice from a Student with 8 A1’s

Hello everyone!

When I was preparing for the LC (2015), I found this post from Fintan really helpful. While everything he said is still valid (and I would recommend reading it – I know I did many times!), I think a more recent version is in order.

I got 8 A1’s (HL) in the LC this year doing English, Irish, maths, French, biology, physics, chemistry and applied maths so I can offer advice in any of these, or equally if you’re just looking for general tips (how long to study, how to learn vocabulary, how to manage stress, etc.) I can give some. I also went to an Easter course for maths and had grinds in English if you want advice on extra classes. For now, I just have three things to say:

  1. In order to do well, you need a reason to study, and I mean a good reason that will last you the year. It’s a long few months, and nobody stays motivated because they’re scared of failing or because they’re trying to please their parents, for example. Knowing why you want to study and do your best can really take some of the pain out of studying.For me, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school (and still don’t – gap year!), so I studied in order to have as many doors as possible still open to me when I left school.
    Also, I really didn’t want to have to repeat (who does?), and I knew that if I worked as much as I could repeating would be pointless no matter what my results were. If you put in as much effort as you will ever be willing to the first time, then you can’t have regrets at the end.
  2. Like Fintan said, I think a study diary is essential. For me, this meant writing down what I studied each day and how many hours I did in total. It helps you keep track of your work, but it can also just be satisfying to get to write down what you have achieved – your work isn’t recognised properly until August so you may as well do it yourself!
  3. Take care of yourself. I know a lot of you will ignore this, but honestly if you need a day off just take it! We had a loss in the family and I took a whole week off school without thinking twice. I had mid-term right after the mocks, and I didn’t work at all for the week just to recover. This means that if you’re sick, stay in bed – you won’t study well when you’re sick, and there’s no point in studying just to have done something. When you’re relaxing, make sure you’re actually relaxing, not thinking about study. Of course, there will be some late nights with the books and stressful times but remember that your wellbeing is not only more important than the LC, but it is also essential if you want to succeed in the LC.

For some of you, what’s above will sound cliché, but so many people don’t keep track of their work, or they don’t study ‘enough’ because they lack self-motivation. What’s worse is when a student is motivated and organised with a study journal, but exhausts themselves and does worse because of it!

I have so many ideas for what to write here, but I think you’ve done enough reading! I can expand on anything above if you’re interested, and please do ask any questions you have about the LC – I would be delighted to help and will get back asap. I know I would have been too shy to post anything in fifth/sixth year, but seriously don’t hesitate.

158 thoughts on “Advice from a Student with 8 A1’s”

  1. Hi Ollie, you’re fantastic for doing this! I used to never have a problem with Irish but it’s been stressing me out since I started fifth year last year. Our teacher just tells us to learn off pages and pages of pre written essays, poetry themes, sraith pictiurs, comhra, EVERYTHING. I’m not sure if I could keep all these things memorised for the exam and I’m getting the same things to learn off as the rest of my class and I’m pretty sure it won’t look all that good to the examiner when they get 30 scripts with all the exact same essays etc So you see the problem here… I can’t string my own sentences together as we never do grammar and just rote learning.
    I was considering getting a grind but my sister told me that LC Irish is relatively easy and that getting a grind would be a waste of time and money…
    I’d just like to know how you actually studied for this subject? Did you study Irish this way? Have you any tips? I’m doing honour btw.
    Sorry this turned into a bit of a rant but any advice would be much appreciated 🙂 thanks and congrats on your brilliant results!!

    1. Hi Aoife,
      Firstly I’d say well done on getting down to work from day one.
      I know this isn’t the common strategy, but I learned off as little as possible for every subject – the SEC can always come up with new questions to trick you out. This is especially important for languages.

      Here are my tips:
      1. If you can get a grip on grammar your scores will shoot up. If your teacher isn’t doing grammar (mine didn’t do much) but you’re reading a lot, pay attention to every word you read and ask yourself why it’s written how and where it is. For example, is there a séimhiú you wouldn’t have put in yourself? Why is there a ‘t’ in front of that ‘s?’ Why is there a ‘h’ in that adjective? If you don’t know, put up your hand and ask. I knew my teacher wouldn’t explain the full rules, so I read a section of Fiúntas on masculine/feminine and the tuiseal ginideach but it was in Irish and hard to understand without a teacher. Even doing 2/3 grinds lessons with someone who understands Irish grammar would be useful. Definitely start by learning the tenses and go from there. I have an Excel sheet for the irregulars which I can email to you if I can’t figure out a way to post it here. Reading a ton of sheets is as useful as you make it because it can teach you to write yourself if you engage with the text.

      2. The best way to study Irish is to actually try to learn the language instead of cutting corners and learning off sentences you didn’t write yourself. When you’re writing answers, think about what you actually would like to say in English without considering the vocabulary you’re lacking for that. Then make yourself attempt that answer in Irish, looking up words you don’t know and writing them down. When you get the corrections, make sure you understand why what you did was wrong/right. Obviously, towards the end of the year you have to practice writing with only the vocabulary you know and adoptingfa viewpoint that suits that vocabulary. For now, put in the effort and learn to form sentences yourself. A lot of the time if I wasn’t sure how to write a sentence in an answer, I’d look it up and put down my best guess with an asterix beside it. At the end of the answer, I’d write down every other way I considered writing it and get my teacher to correct each one so I would/wouldn’t consider writing that way the next time.

      3. I was trying to emphasise this in the last step but to make it clear – push yourself to learn more. You won’t progress without challenging yourself. For example, when preparing ‘mé féin’ for the oral, test how long you can send talking JUST ABOUT YOURSELF. I mean nothing about your family, your hobbies or your school – just you. Your flaws, your qualities (with examples of each), your birthday, etc. Realistically you won’t have to restrict yourself so much in the exam but doing that forces you to discover which sentences you’re not sure on. You can then ask the next day and pick up a new skill you can bring into everything else you read/say. The more variety you have in how you structure your sentences the better (as long as they’re right!).

      Hope this helps, post again if you have more questions. I can help on specific Irish grammar questions if you’re stuck but I’m no expert.


  2. Niamh Robertson

    Hi Ollie ,
    Thanks so much for offering your help !
    Im currently in the second week of fifth year and am already stressing out ! I have my heart set on medicine and require top points to get it . I’m an extremely hard worker but i feel more structure could help – the study diary sounds like a great idea i! I just want to know whether you wrote in day by day what you covered in class and what you then wanted to cover in the evening or if it was a weekly thing or if you wrote all the chapters of every subject out first and ticked them off and if so did you go ahead of yourself and start studying before doing it in class ? also if you have an indication of how long you studied on the weekends and if it was in bulk or half now and half later ?

    thanks so much !

    1. Hi Niamh!
      Sorry for the delay. I think I’ve more or less written a response to each sentence in your post!
      1. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to stress out so much. Remember that every test/essay until the LC is only a starting point – if you’re not doing as well as you’d like to, you have plenty of time to improve now that you know your mistakes. Try to maintain perspective on work – you don’t have to ace everything immediately. Week 2 of fifth year is early days for sure.

      2. Some people say to study smart, not hard. Personally, I think both are required but luckily you’ve got the trickier one – actually studying – down pat. This is where ‘smart’ comes in. I didn’t find it useful to revise day by day because realistically you actually don’t cover that much at school on any given day. I used to wait until we had finished a chapter in class and then revise the whole chapter (maths/applied maths were the exceptions to this). If I was struggling with something, then I would definitely study it in the evening, look up videos about it, and then read ahead (especially in science subjects where new vocabulary can be a big blocker to learning in class). Class will move quickly enough – try to master what you’re covering/gave done instead of jumping ahead.

      3. I only made chapter lists for the JC and found they didn’t work for me. Instead, I had the Edco papers with the table of topics/past Qs at the front and each time we finished a section, I would do and mark all of the exam Qs. As I marked them, I would write out a short list of my mistakes and the corrections. Then I would brush over the Qs/answers regularly (i.e. one day/week/month/three months later) and look over this list in particular.

      4. In fifth year, I studied for around 4 hours on each weekend day (I think – I’ll check for sure tomorrow). In fifth year I had a tendency to want to get all of my work done at once, but in sixth year I found it more productive to go for a run/cook lunch/watch TV for an hour or even two in the middle. This is more of a personal thing so do what suits you/what you are most happy with. Consider how long it takes you to ‘get into’ studying. I liked doing 2.5 hours, then a break, then 1.5 as the 2nd half wasn’t too long. Also, I really preferred to have everything done earlier atvthe weekends so that I could relax, so while I split the study it was still all concentrated in 1 part of the day.

      Is that all clear? Remember that at this point getting into the habit of study is more important than mastering the study itself – that will come with time.

  3. Hi Ollie,
    Do you have any advice on how to study for subjects that you have TERRIBLE teachers in? Like for example Geography? I know it’s a broad course but I have a such a bad teacher, I don’t know how I’m going to survive. I’m only in 5th year 🙂
    Also, there’s another Geography teacher that I can possibly ask to help me but do you think it’s too early to ask for notes? Haha or should I ask her for extra classes if she’s not busy?
    Would you recommend getting revision books in 5th year and learning ahead? and should I buy exam papers now or wait till 6th year?

    1. I feel your pain – everybody has a few awful teachers.

      If you can’t understand the material after your own teacher’s classes (rather than simply not remembering it), then you should tackle this problem. First of all, ASK MORE QUESTIONS. The teacher won’t know to explain something more clearly if you don’t ask them about it, and keep asking until you get it. Sometimes this will mean going up after class so that you don’t annoy them. If the teacher isn’t great at answering broader questions, read over the material at night and ask very specific questions the next day, to the point that you’re just looking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Also, hand up extra work for correction.

      It’s early days, so give your teacher a chance to improve, but don’t expect it to happen without intervention. I asked plenty of my teachers to change their teaching methods in specific ways and many of them did (e.g. let the students work out the answers first – generally attacking the teachers won’t work).

      If your teacher really can’t explain anything, consider extra help. My advice is to look at grinds or ask your friends for help, because working with the other geography teacher might backfire (this happened to me). You might offend your current teacher and then neither will help you so that they can still get along in the staff room. If you are desperate for the note and the other teacher teaches another 5th year class, get them from another student and find a way to photocopy them.

      Ultimately, remember that notes aren’t everything and they really only serve to accompany teaching/understanding. Even though certain school have reputations for giving out ‘A1’ notes which students will hunt down, but the best notes you can get are your own. You learn the most when you’re making notes and going through the information, and you take in almost nothing from reading notes. Your books should have all of the information you need, so ask yourself why you’re looking for the notes. If you just want a more concise version of the information, make it yourself. In my opinion, most revision books are a waste of time.

      Everyone asks about learning ahead, but I don’t really understand why. If you’re struggling to understand/learn the information you’re covering at the school rate, learning ahead won’t help. Read over the chapter you’re covering in class, but I’d leave it there. You have other subjects to deal with. The only time that I would recommend properly learning ahead (i.e. basically teaching yourself) is if you’re getting to the end of sixth year and your teacher isn’t nearing the end of the course.

      Finally, get exam papers now or look them up online. They are the best guide to what you need to know and how to answer the questions when used with the marking schemes. When you make notes, they should be informed by the marking schemes and what will get marks.

  4. Hey Ollie,
    Massive congratulations on your results!
    I’m in leaving cert now and I’m finding it really hard to do my homework AND revise during the week. I don’t finish my homework usually until 9 o’clock and by then, I’m way too tired to even think about revision? I’m beginning to panic that I’m not doing enough as I need a lot of points for the course I want to do and I’m worried that I’m not doing enough work to reach my goal..
    The study diary is a great idea but I don’t know how I can fit revision into my evenings on top of homework..
    Any bit of advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment, although it brought me flashbacks to when I used to find time management pretty hard because of homework 😛 I have three tips for you:

      1. Re-evaluate how important different pieces of homework are. When I was in sixth year, my teachers gave me a lot of homework that wasn’t useful (what really bugged me was when I had non-exam book questions that just wanted me to copy out the sentences in the book). Remember that homework is usually urgent, but not always important. Most of it really doesn’t have to be a masterpiece – it just has to be done. On the other hand, some homework is very useful. If you have a piece of homework (e.g. exam questions/an essay/etc.) that you would count as study if you undertook it independently, then do it as you would for study and count it as revision. If you have serious homework, then give it the time it deserves. Otherwise, I used to give my less important homework maximum 1.5 hours in the evening.

      2. Do your homework AFTER your study. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but at the end of the day nobody else will make you study after 9, and you can just go to bed instead. However, if your homework isn’t finished, you have to keep going (and you will actually do it as fast as possible). What I found was that I spent ages on my homework if I did it first so that I would finish up late and avoid studying. I will make you be more efficient with your homework if you don’t have all evening to do it, and also allow you to do your study at your best. If you’re nervous about not getting the homework done/exhausting yourself, just do an hour of study before your homework at first (and then what you have time for afterwards) and then increase the amount you do beforehand as you learn to do your homework faster.

      3. The above advice assumes that it is the volume of homework rather than the difficulty of it that makes it take so long. If your homework takes up too much time because you find it hard, you are not getting/seeking enough support at school. Ask more questions in class, look over the homework with friends at lunch, and consider external help (i.e. grinds). Homework is about reinforcing material, not learning it for the first time.

      Hope this helps, but if I haven’t addressed you issue (i.e. if something else makes your homework take a long time), then post it up and I’ll get back to you. Good luck!

    1. I imagine it depends on your strengths but I didn’t do either of them. I would have chosen accounting because I like maths and prefer learning methods to information (I really avoided essay-based exams). On the other hand, some people excel at essay-writing and loathe maths (for some weird reason). I don’t think any subject is definitively easier than another so I’d say play to your strengths and interests.

      Sorry I can’t give a less ambiguous answer!

  5. I’m in leaving cert and I’m finding applied maths difficult. I do it outside of school so only do it three times a week. I am good at maths in general but I find applied maths much harder. I can never seem to fully finish an exam question without making some mistake. Any tips?

    1. 1. You’d be surprised at how well you can do in AM without having a perfect answer. Check out the marking schemes and they should give you a boost 🙂

      2. Practice is key in applied maths. I went to a weekend course where we were given every exam question for each topic since 1976 and I just worked through as many as possible. The exam board usually isn’t very creative with the questions and you’ll find that there are really 3-4 possible core questions for each chapter.

      3. Don’t start with the papers. I made this mistake and found them impossible at first! If I was struggling with a chapter, I would work through every question in the textbook in order until I felt confident enough to skip a few. The OL papers can be a great way to wrap your head around concepts before trying the trickier questions.

      4. Specifically what I did was that I would do a question, and the look at the solution and mark it. The I would make sure I understood the solution and where I had gone wrong and work through it again with the solution on hand if I got stuck. Finally (and this is really important), I would try it again a few days later without the solution and see what I had forgotten. I would repeat this process until I could do it on any day without aid. Because the questions are repetitive, don’t beat yourself up about spending ages on one question – it will help with every one you do afterwards. Also, don’t be afraid to leave a question for a few days and work on others from that chapter to explore the ideas a bit more without the pressure of perfecting that one answer.

      5. Make sure you understand the material in class. It can be scary but just ask when you can’t see where a step came from – it’s usually simple but unclear, and won’t get easier to decipher at home. Another thing you can do is look over your teacher’s work at home and then attempt those questions rather than new ones a few days later or even later the same day.

      6. Really try to understand what you’re doing. Because of repetition, most students can do fairly well in AM but every year there will be one or two questions or steps that require more thought.

      Mostly AM is about practice and patience – I found it really hard at first. As with every subject, allow yourself to start out with no time limits. Understanding one question in a study session is far more important than attempting a dozen (although the ideal solution is understanding a dozen). Remember that every students prefers certain chapters, and you can do very well with mostly correct answers.

      Hope this clears things up a bit but ask away if you’re still stuck.

      Good luck!

  6. Hi, I get what your saying and right now after reading it, it makes so much sense and I’ve been told it before but it never seems to actually click with me. I never have enough motivation or energy to function properly (my eyes twitch constantly during the day, not sure if its from my instant addiction to coffee or insomnia) I havnt started studying yet because I simply dont know where to start and hate the thoughts of it way too much! It even takes me about 3-4 hours to do homework alone! Currently doing 7 higher level subjects, but I feel by tomorrow I will have dropped down in Irish (my teacher makes it look so hard to even turn up to 2 classes a week) Im stressing over dropping so much because Im not great at physics either and I need to count one of them! I feel quite disappointed in myself but I honestly cant handle the pressure. Any advice or at least a way to destress and learn to cope with everything at once? thanks<3

    1. The LC is hard on everyone, and no matter how much work you do it never feels like enough (trust me on that one). What I would say is that the earlier you start, the easier it will be. Like I said above, find motivation to study or you won’t do it/keep it up. Ask yourself why you want to do well to take the pain out of study a bit. One thing that made me study was knowing that I wanted to open my envelope knowing that I had done my best. That way, I could still be disappointed by what ‘my best’ actually was, but I couldn’t have any regrets, knowing that it was the maximum effort I was willing to put in. The sooner you start, the truer this will be.

      As for tiredness, I don’t know much about coffee! Never drank it myself, but make sure you’re looking after yourself. It doesn’t matter how much you study if none of it goes in due to exhaustion.

      You are definitely spending way too long on homework unless it’s all really important, exam-focused work (in which case you can count it as study). As I have discussed above, I recommend studying before doing homework to give study priority and make sure you do it. If you know you could realistically do your homework faster, you’re cheating yourself. You are giving so much time to work already – you desevre to get the most out of it.

      As for study, start small with even an hour a day. For example, you could do one sraith pictiúr and one physics question a day (I can’t recommend marking your own answers enough for physics). This may sound daunting, but I would study a physics chapter and then look up every past question on it since 2002, writing out either my answers or notes on what I would include. You’ll find this way that the questions are repetitive and the schemes are fairly consistent. The marking schemes will also show you how many marks you can get just for writing down formulae and train you to do so when you mark your answers. Also, when you read every marking scheme on a topic you really learn what specific words they want in your response. Don’t underestimate the experiments! The questions hardly ever change for each of them!

      As for destressing, ask yourself where the pressure is coming from. If it’s anxiety over not studying and constantly feeling the need to study, then get going and know that everyone starts out small. Also, if you are subconsciously letting your homework take longer than it should/using your phone while you work, remember that you are robbing yourself both of proper relaxation and proper study. Whatever you are doing – whether you’re working or relaxing – make sure you are 100% doing it instead of thinking of something else.

      I was disappointed in myself when I was considering giving up music and felt like a quitter. It was one of the best decisions I made all year! I used the extra time to kick back and my work really benefited from my calmness. You have to know your limits and not be ashamed of them 🙂

      Good luck, and if the pressure gets to be too much don’t be afraid to step away from it for a while.

  7. Hi Ollie , I’m finding studying my geography essays really hard and I’m not sure of a way to get all the days to stick in my head .i tried one word for each srp to get me to rember it but it doesn’t work .my teacher gets us to learn one essay every night for a week and we have a test on 2 of the 5 every week and I find it pretty hard to learn all the days any idea on what I can do 🙁 I’m really starting to stress out and get tired as I’m in 6th year and I’m worried I won’t do good in geography

    1. I didn’t do LC geography so I’m not sure what the days/srp’s are. Your teacher is helping you by making you revise, especially if you find the subject hard. Remember that you don’t have to ace his/her tests so don’t worry about perfecting your work for them – just do what you can handle and then learn from your mistakes. Ultimately, if his/her work pace is too fast, just work at your own speed and know that you’ll learn what you need to in time. You could always ask to have tests on Monday to give you weekend revision time.

      Also, if you are learning one a night that’s very intense memory work. I recommend continuous revision for memory work – that means studying a topic in detail today, and then glancing over it after a day, a week, a month and then finally after 3 months (the study journal can help with this).

      Don’t stress out about these tests if you can – they only show you where you are now, not where you will be in June. It sounds weird, but tests are your friend for that reason – the only ones that count are the actual LC.

      If you want to post more details on what exactly the essays areI can give more specific help, but for the meantime this is the advice I have.

  8. Hi Ollie, congrats on your 8 a1’s, wow! Im finding leaving cert so hard at the moment.. There’s never enough done and I never do what I say I will! Im forever panicking and then getting lazy.. I just can’t do it! Im all higher level and I want at least 560.. It takes me so long to study so little and im terrified of failing altogether!!!!!

    1. Hi Catriona,

      I’m not sure if you’re looking for advice but it sounds like you’re freaking out.

      Firstly, I know it’s easy to say this and hard to fix, but the panic isn’t doing you any favours. Everyone feels like they’re not doing enough (trust me on this one). The one thing I can say is that it is harder to beat yourself up about it if you know you’re trying your best. That doesn’t mean studying 24/7, it means studying as much/as well as you can while maintaining your sanity! When you relax, forget the LC as much as possible or you’ll get nothing out of the relaxation. Even the night befor each exam I felt like I hadn’t covered everything, but I was happy it was ‘enough’ because I couldn’t have done any more.

      In terms of doing what you say you will, don’t just say it – write it. A study journal really keeps you accountable for your work. If you’re doing less than you can, it will force you to see that. On the other hand, if you look at your journal and think you couldn’t have done any more work, then you know that your panic is totally unfounded (not that panic is advisable either way).

      Keep encouraging yourself and be proud of what you have done instead of being unsatisfied by what you haven’t done. Otherwise your work will never feel satisfactory and you will be less inclined to do it. After all, what difference does one more topic on the list of those you haven’t studied make? You have to focus on what you HAVE done or you will lose motivation.

      Be patient with your study – it’s a skill like any other. The more you study, the faster you become at it. If your current pace isn’t satisfying you, the only solution is technique and then practice – make sure you have a study method that actually works for YOU and then keep at it.

      As for failing/not getting ‘enough’ points, I think you need to reconsider your priorities. Honestly just focus on getting your best and you will work better – fixating on a goal that feels out of reach will be really discouraging and will inhibit your study/make you freak out and lose focus.

      Face your fears! I always thought, ‘I’m not where I want to be today, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.’

      Good luck 🙂


  9. Hi Ollie, congratulations on your 8 A1’s! That’s insane. I’ve just started 5th year and I’m fairly serious about focusing this year so I’m not cramming next year. I’m not really sure on how to study effectively because I’ve never really needed to study much as I pick up a lot of information in class without forgetting it. I’m finding myself struggling hugely with maths at the moment and also the maths in physics.Our physics teacher says he can’t help because i should learn the methods in maths and our maths teacher just gives us notes and doesn’t check the homework.I got an A in the JC for maths and now I’m failing maths tests. I’m fairly confident in most other subjects and maths is really important because I want to pursue a career in computing and software development so number work is crucial.In short what do I do to learn the methods in maths if no one will explain it and how can I improve my study skills?

    1. 1. Good call on studying in fifth year. Don’t expect to retain everything for sixth year, but it makes revision in sixth year much faster – especially if you can understand everything in fifth year. Also, it gets you into the routine of study and you learn how to study.

      2. Study is really a 3-stage process: understand the information, learn the information, learn the information the way the examiners want it expressed. It sounds like you get steps 1 and 2 in most classes so you can do them fairly quickly at home if needed. Otherwise, focus on the last stage. This means doing exam questions and marking them yourself according to the schemes. For physics, I used to study a topic and then do every question on it since 2002 (Edco papers list questions by year/topic). If you find you don’t know the required information when you’re doing/marking your work, then you do need steps 1 and 2 more than you think. Otherwise, just keep focusing on exam questions.

      3. If you’re struggling with physcis, try questions from the book first. They are usually ordered from easiest to hardest so you will gradually build up skills instead of jumping into exam questions. Check answers at the back of your book and then circle the ones you’ve gotten wrong for your teacher to correct. Understanding the theory and what each symbol stands for in a formula is really useful and makes the maths more intuitive. You can always start with ordinary level exam questions. Most of the methods involved are just rearranging formulae to isolate one variable. If you find this challenging, take every equation you get and isolate each variable in turn. Soon it will become second nature to you. Finally, marking the papers will show you just how many marks you can get from rearranging formulae (AND WRITING DOWN YOUR WORK) without using any numbers at all. My advice is to sub in values at the last possible stage and just use algebra withnthe letters until then.

      4. For the maths homework, check your answers with your book and ask your teacher specifically about the ones you didn’t get. If the teacher won’t go through them in class (maths is a long course), give them the page numbers/questions you were stuck on and ask them to write out solutions for you. If your teacher really won’t cooperate (you can explain how much you need it for your career) you can always ask a classmate to run through them with you. In my class, we would ask the teacher for solutions and he would post them on Edmodo or other students would put up the solutions.

      5. Try to engage in class and keep up as you go. Hopefully your teacher will welcome questions so ask as many as you need to. If their answer is unclear, ask them about the parts you need them to explain differently – they won’t sense your confusion. Finally, it can be boring, but you can always read the maths book. Just take it one example at a time, understanding each step as you go along and then trying the example yourself. Then try book exercises. The maths exam questions can be very challenging so make sure you have a strong grasp of the textbook questions before attempting them.

      I cannot recommend working with classmates enough in maths. Sometimes teachers are so good at their subjects that they find it hard to remember what it was like not to understand them so they fail to explain in the right way, whereas students won’t make this mistake!

      Hope that helps. It sounds like you don’t need the ‘general’ study (stages 1 & 2), for other subjects as much as stage 3 but if you do just comment and I’ll give you any help I can.


  10. Hi Ollie, i am in sixth year now an struggling through higher level english. My grammar and expression is letting me down and the teacher is even saying it is not higher level standard. How can i improve this? i need to stay in honours english for my course. I have not been a homework kind of guy all the way up along until sixth year yet am capable of achieving high marks.I am finding it hard to focus and actually put long hours into my studies due to sport and am getting severely worried. A few tips would be well appreciated, thanks!

    1. My advice is to take up reading. I know you may wince at this, bit honestly reading one newspaper per week will dramatically improve your expression – how could you learn to write without seeing how it is done? Also, when you get essays back comb through them thoroughly for grammar mistakes and understand where each mistake comes from.

      When you write an essay, type it. Some teachers don’t approve of this, but it can really help your expression. Every time you write an essay, re-draft it multiple times. It takes a long time but perfecting the expression in one essay will teach you skills that you can carry forward into every other piece of writing and teach you more than simply repeating the same mistakes in many different essays.

      Plan each answer rigorously, knowing what points you want to make and in what order (not just the order in which you come up with them). Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for the key terms.

      The second time you read it, make sure the answer flows logically overall. This means using connecting words (furthermore, similarly, interestingly, etc.) to open paragraphs and ensuring one idea moves naturally onto the next. Each point should be written with what you mentioned in the previous one in mind. On a computer, you can rearrange the order of paragraphs or remove some if you need to.

      The third time you read it, make sure each paragraph reads well. This means that each sentence BUILDS on the previous one. Don’t repeat ideas just to use up space – make every sentence and every word count. Incorporate quotes into sentences to give your work more flow and cut down on repetiton (e.g. Iago’s belief that he is ‘worth no worse a place,’ demonstrates both his pride and his sense of entitlement).

      The fourth time your read it, make sure every single word is needed and carefully chosen. If you’re using ‘say,’ ‘write,’ and ‘show’ too often, learn synonyms for them. Cut down on the blabber (I feel, I think, etc).

      Doing well I’m English takes a lot of time. I had to dramatically improve my marks from the mocks so I hired a tutor who I can give you the details for if you’re interested. He worked through every essay with me, questioning every word and removing those that were redundant. He helped me massively so I can’t honestly say that I would have improved so much in expression without him.

      If you want to succeed, you will need to put in a lot of effort. You may have to give up some of the time you dedicate to sport.

  11. Thank you!
    I am definitely better at essay-based exams hahaha, although I wish I was better at Maths :/ My concern is that I feel I’m doing too many subjects that involves really learning things off by heart? (Geography, English, Biology, Irish…) I am better at English based subjects than Maths but you mentioned that you really avoided those kind of subjects. Did you not feel like you were doing too much Maths subjects?

    1. I honestly had very little motivation to learn information by heart, so I loved doing the sciences and languages. There were a few exceptions, but that was how I played to my strengths.

      If you think you have too much information to learn off, try to approach the subjects differently. For example, I didn’t learn anything off for Irish or biology. Instead, I tried to learn to speak/write Irish as a language. Of course I had to know vocabulary, but I learnt it by using it in essays/phrases and testing myself on it rather than by learning off massive chunks of text.

      With biology, I found that when I understood something I never had go learn it off. The definitions may seem like they must be learnt by heart, but if you understand each part of a definition you will naturally include them all. For example, if you really know what an ecosystem is, you know that it can’t be defined as ‘a certain group of organisms’ or ‘organisms engaging with their environment.’

      When you studied and ecosystem, you studied various plants and animals, biotic factors and abiotic factors all within a certain area. If any of this hadn’t been done, you wouldn’t have been looking at the whole ecosystem.

      Therefore, an ecosystem must be a clearly distinguished group of organisms (i.e. in one area), that interact with each other (biotic factors) and their environment (abiotic factors) as a unit (i.e. a group).

      Doing the exam papers can help to highlight the parts of definitions that have to be included. When you see required parts, ask yourself why they are needed. If you understand this, defining the terms should be natural.

      When you aim to understand something rather than to know exact information about it, you will find that it you are able to write down the info you need.

      I know it isn’t how we are taught to learn and as such it takes a while to get used to it, but it worked for me.


  12. Hi there! Congrats on a super LC 🙂 I’m currently in LC and like many others, I am finding it quite difficult and seem to be procrastinating far too much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a dedicated student but I just seem to be lacking motivation! It’s been my dream since I was small to study medicine but it just seems so unachievable at the moment! scored 595 points in my summer
    tests and I was just wondering did you use your 5th year summer tests as a guideline? I’m trying to study for the HPAT as well and my hopes are slowly diminishing! I don’t mean to be so pesimistic it’s just the workload seems to be unmanageable! As I’ve done TY, repeating seems all the more horrible. Achieving A1s seems more difficult by the day but I know if I focused myself enough I’d be fine! I’m a bit of a panicker as you can probably tell. I feel like I’m overloading you with information but I’m becoming more and more worried that I won’t get my course! I’m quite stressed and my procrastination habits aren’t helping!

    1. Your summer tests are like a health check, but they’re not your final diagmosis (unintentionally medicine-themed). Firstly, I got all A1’s in my fifth year summer tests, but that didn’t mean that I would get the same marks in the LC. Here’s what your tests tell you:

      1. Your depth of study was sufficient for the topics asked. Knowing the information as well as you did last May (realistically a bit better is ideal) will be enough for the LC.
      2. Your exam technique is strong (not perfect – students usually get more time than in the LC for summer exams).
      3. Your pace of study was fast enough for all of the material you covered in fifth year.
      4. If you keep working hard, you can maintain these results.

      However, like the mocks, trusting those tests too much is a mistake. Common mistakes are thinking:

      1. You know all the material well enough for the LC. CORRECTION: you used to know it more or less well enough.
      2. Your fifth year pace of study will work for sixth year. CORRECTION: you have 2 years of work to revise in sixth year, not one.

      Having said all of that, it sounds like you’re doing fine! Don’t beat yourself up about procrastination, or you let the procrastination-anxiety distract you when you do start working. If it is a big problem, set yourself goals each day and don’t relax until you have finished them. For me, I knew that the faster I got my study done, the more time I would get to really let myself relax afterwards. Remember that really relaxing is worth so much more than watching YouTube videos for a while before studying. Also, the way I see it, even when you’re procrastinating, you’re still giving that time to study. After all, you spend it thinking about study. The only difference is that you’re not getting the work rewards for your time. Don’t short change yourself and give more time to study than you need to.

      The workload becomes more manageable when you study really thoroughly and can say, ‘Yep, I’ve mastered that topic.’ Then you don’t have that feeling that you never really finished it/all of your study has gone to waste/maybe you should just start over. For example, if you do and mark every past question for a biology topic and then write a list of your mistakes, you know that that is done for now and you can move on. Done. Finished. Next.

      Good luck and stay positive!


  13. Hey! Thanks for doing this, really helps. How many hours a day would you say you studied- school days and weekends . And what did you do in particular that you think got you an A1 in all subjects especially biology chemistry and physics. I heard the biology paper for 2015 was difficult. I’m looking to do medicine and I’m worried 🙁

    1. The 2015 biology paper was quite hard as they asked some topics that I certainly had thought they would never ask (I honestly hadn’t studied teeth at all and didn’t even read the question when I saw the picture!). However, going through the papers year by year shows that they do that literally every single year. There will be something unexpected on the paper, but there will also be a lot of choice. Study the core material well enough and you will be able to avoid whatever surprises you. Please do not rule anything out like genetics and remember that ecology has to come up!

      For sixth year, I did around 3.5-4.5 hours of ‘new’ study each night and 30 mins/an hour of continuous revision. On weekend days, I aimed for at least 4 hours per day but maximum 6 (unless I was freaking out and did more hours, which weren’t productive anyway). This may seem like a lot – I’d say it came in at 4/4.5 hours of study each day. I found that this was what I was able to do (although in hindsight I actually should have done less because I was really exhausted). I unfortunately got into that mentality of counting time instead of topics, so tried to keep working until I reached an ‘acceptable’ time, even if I wasn’t studying effectively due to tiredness.

      Don’t try to reach these goals immediately (or ever, if they don’t suit you). You will tire yourself out of you do too much, trust me.

      For all of the sciences, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of:

      1. Understanding the material. Don’t cut corners. Watch as many videos as it takes. Do as many questions as needed. Learning off will get you a B. Only understanding of moves you into the A category.

      2. Learning the material. Obviously you have to actually know the information as well as understanding it, although hopefully one leads naturally into the other.

      3. DOING EXAM QUESTIONS AND MARKING THEM YOURSELF. This has to be the key to really getting an A1. Read through what I have written above about doing every question for a topic and then marking them. It will show you the specific words you genuinely will need to include for full marks and also the value of writing down formulae. Furthermore, it drills home the questions they always ask on each topic (for example the experiment questions for each science are rarely new).

      4. Continuously revising what you have done and your mistakes. The information will stay as fresh as an old sock otherwise.

      Hope that helps.


  14. Hi, well done on those LC results!

    Can you give me some advice on time-management?
    I’m seriously behind on everything because I’m the best at procrastinating. I come home at 4 and I try to get to work straight away. But honestly, nothing happens. I’ve been trying to do my homework after 9 since the beginning of the year but till 9, I procrastinate. I do study, but I avoid subjects I don’t get i.e Physics and maths. I don’t know how to get around those two. I’m gonna use my halloween break to get on top of everything so I’ve dedicated a day to a subject…Is that a good idea?

    Also, can you explain how you organised your study journal? I tried that but it showed me that I wasn’t doing enough as I put in too many things for one evening.

    Thankyou so much in advance!

    1. Firstly, if you feel you’re behind don’t try to catch up on everything at once. Keep on top of your new work and remember that you have a good few months to cover everything. There is no need to do everything with great urgency – you have time so pace yourself and stay calm. I know it’s cheesy, but I always said, ‘I’m not there today, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.’

      Why leave your homework until 9? If it’s the only work you get done, you’re cheating yourself by doing it tired. I think a better rule is that you can only do your homework once you have done a certain amount of study, whether that leaves you starting homework at 6 or 9. Try to be disciplined about this and you’ll learn to study asap to avoid doing homework really late.

      I usually started with a subject I liked for a set time/topic and then spent a slightly shorter time on something I didn’t like. Doing that less preferable subject more often but for short spurts was more sustainable for me, plus the other subject got me into study mode.

      Find a way of studying physics and maths that takes the pain out of them. While I would recommend watching videos to understand them, doing exam questions can also be a very methodical approach that is less boring than just reading because it’s interactive. Usually I found that I could spend a few hours on any topic if In just did exam questions and marked them, because it was just like doing a bunch of quizzes. The topic didn’t really matter as much as the process. Also seriously use the marking schemes for physics. They are an eye-opener.

      Different methods work for different people but I think you’ll get sick of subjects if you study them for a day each. On the holidays, my teacher recommended sticking to your school timetable with 40 minute slots per subject and 6 hour days. I found 40 minutes to short to get my teeth in, so I would usually pick ~3 topics per day and cover each for 2 hours. That way I didn’t get too bored of stop paying attention.

      My advice with a study journal is that you should write in what you have done each day instead of what you will do. Sure, plan ahead but the study journal just shows you what you are not what you could/should be. It will give you more realistic expectations each day.


  15. Thanks! I was also wondering how you managed an A1 in English and French I’m more of a mathematical person and I don’t know how to study English and French and the oral is getting quite daunting now :/

  16. Hey Ollie, congratulations on your outstanding results! It must feel exemplary! I am currently in fifth year and have been getting average results of (65% or 70%) in subjects such as French and Irish. I find these true disheartening, despite the fact that “it’s still early days”, I feel as though it is impossible to memorise every detail for each of my 8 subjects. If you could please advise me on how to get A1s in any (if not all) of my subjects. Granted I am studious, but there is not enough time in the day! I would like to know your strategy for receiving A2’s in tedious subjects like English, Math and Chemistry. Thank you for you time and input. 🙂

    1. “I feel as though it is impossible to memorise every detail for each of my 8 subjects.” That’s because it is! The LC doesn’t have to be a memory test! I’m not sure if you’re looking for advice in French, Irish, English, Maths or Chemistry but the first thing to do is to stop trying to memorise information – as you’ve said, it’s tedious and impossible for the volume you have to work through.

      Every time you get an assignment back with a mark you’re unhappy with, comb though every error. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get your teacher not to grade your work but just to correct it, as it’s too easy to focus on the grade and forget to learn from your mistakes. Make sure you understand where every correction comes from so that you won’t make the same mistakes again. This is the only way to improve. Practise doesn’t make perfect – it makes permanent. It’s not enough to keep repeating the same mistakes and hand up a ton of work without learning from it.

      For languages, I found it useful to make 2 versions of everything – one which I would write in an exam, and one which I wouldn’t. The difference was that the exam-one would have no errors and be based only on what I knew before writing it. I wouldn’t look up any words, and I’d only write sentences if I was 100% sure of the grammar, no matter how basic or short that was. Then, for the other one I would write totally without limits. I would write my true opinions, no matter how complex they were, checking every word and grammatical structure I was unsure of online. Realistically, because you’re in 5th year my advice is to only do the second ‘limitless’ one to push yourself. The other is really a question of exam technique. Even try to write a ‘limitless’ answer, underlining anything you’re unsure of, and then find the answer online afterwards. Alternatively, write down your best guess at the phrasing, but note a few other ideas at the end. Your teacher can tell you which works best and why.

      With maths, understanding the material is vital if you want to do well. That’s my top tip and after that, it’s practise, correct, practise, correct, etc. The more questions you do and correct, the better. The same goes for chemistry – understanding and then endless questions with corrections.

      As for English, again it’s about learning from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to write the same essay many times. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t have gotten an A1 in English without my tutor.

      Your query is a bit general but I hope I’ve helped. You can always post again with more specific questions – this really just outlines an overall approach to all subjects.


  17. French requires different study techniques for the various sections. To focus on the oral, my advice is to really push yourself on the basics. For example, the first topic to cover is ‘moi-même.’ Try to talk strictly about yourself for as long as possible. This means just your personality, qualities and flaws – NOT your hobbies, family, friends, school, etc. By the time my oral came around, I could talk about myself for 10 minutes without mentioning anything else except in the context of examples.

    I would say, ‘Je suis ambitieuse et je travaille d’arrache-pied car j’attache une grande valeur à l’éducation. Peut-être que je suis trop sérieuse car je suis rarement vraiment décontractée. Par example, je suis assez renfermée et privée, surtout en rencontrant de nouvelles personnes…’

    Brainstorm what you could possibly say and then look up how to say it all. Don’t limit yourself when practising – keep looking for new ways to express yourself. Work off that brainstorm of key ideas (in English or French), glancing at it every time you run out of things to say.

    Also, perfect your grammar. It is a huge confidence-builder and opens up a much wider range of conversation. I would advise reading the SEC’s marking schemes and examiners’ reports on the orals to see the common mistakes. I had the intermediate book ‘grammaire progressive du français’ which really cleared up rules for me. I did it at home and didn’t even finish it, but it was a massive help.

    They will love you for making a confident effort. If you want to improve your accent (and a good accent really impresses), consider typing the French text into Google translate and then getting the software to pronounce it for you (there is a button to hear the text read). It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good and definitely good enough for LC standard. Having said that, do not use the programme go actually translate – only to pronounce.

    Finally, do not learn off loads of material for the oral! This is pointless – genuinely anything could be the focus and you won’t be able to adapt unless you know how to compose a sentence naturally. When you practise, make up the sentences as you go along each time. The brainstorm is only for topics, not a script.

    As English, it was honestly my ‘bête noire’ for the LC. I worked really hard and gave it loads of time but was approaching it in entirely the wrong way. I was underprepared for my Christmas test and freaked out in the exam, giving myself a low mark. I decided not to let that happen again and to focus a ton on English and getting through the mock for English with a clear head. I though the mocks went really well, but my mark didn’t improve at all despite my level head! I realised that I needed external help because I just wasn’t cracking it. I brought in a tutor (Sean McNulty from if you’re interested) who had helped a cousin of mine pass the exam. While I don’t want this post to just be an ad, I think it’s only fair that I say that I would never have made the progress I made in English without him. He really made the whole course accessible and made me understand exam technique so much better. If you are struggling, I would definitely contact him.

    I needed outside help in English, and sometimes recognising that is the best thing you can do for your study. After all, nobody said you had to do it alone! Take all the help you need – that’s what it’s there for.


  18. Hi
    Just wondering which level of grammaire progressive du français you bought? Intermediate?
    Also do you have any advice on how to learn chemistry experiments?
    Thanks in advance and well done on your results!

    1. Intermediate – the level exceeds HL French, but the lower level is a bit too basic. This way if you only make it halfway through the book you’ll still be set for the exam. Also, I never bought the solutions but maybe it would be a good idea.

      Chemistry experiments seem daunting at first because the questions seem to come out of nowhere. The better you understand each step and its purpose, the easier they will become. There are certain colours/indicators you will just have to learn, and overall the best approach is exam questions (they rarely ask new questions). Doing and marking the questions will show you exactly what they want (e.g. add H2SO4 to ensure complete reduction of Mn(VII) to Mn(II) instead of Mn(IV)) I’ll send you a titrations summary I created during the LC if you want it. Don’t underestimate the worth of practicing the calculations, and MASTER the titrations because they are guaranteed to come up!

      They will always ask for one of how to fill a burette/a pipette, the definition of standard solution, etc. so know these perfectly.

      Chemistry Live by Folens is brilliant for the experiments. They also have online videos which are pretty helpful, but honestly the book is fabulous (I have not been paid to say this, it was just a lifesaver). My school textbook didn’t explain anything properly, but Chemistry Live justifies each step in each experiment. Buying a new book is expensive, but this one is worth it.

      Try to make sure you understand each step, and the questions will become much easier. Doing the questions then really drills the information into you in the format they want.


    1. Including the Friday I got off school, I was away for 4 days and studied a lot for the other 6. However, in hindsight I should have relaxed more. After that break, I started a policy of doing no work at all during the weekend before going back to school. Don’t worry about whatever you have/haven’t done now or try to overcompensate when you get back to school. If you didn’t study, make the most of the relaxation you did by using that energy when you get back (but don’t increase your hours – just intensity).

    2. Also I just remembered that I had my Christmas test the week after I got back (early, I know) so I think I wouldn’t have studied as much over the holiday without them and then I took a week long break after the tests.

  19. Hi Ollie,
    At what stage in 6th year did all the information really start to stick? When did you start to feel confident in all that you knew? I worked extremely hard in 5th year, and that information is still fairly fresh in my mind. However, there’s times when I feel as if I know nothing , simply because I can’t recall something or approach a question perfectly. As result this pushes me to work with even more intensity, futher raising my stress levels. When do you start to feel confidence and prepared?

    1. This may not sound comforting, but the truth is that you never feel 100% secure, but if you can accept that it can be very calming. You sound a lot like me (tell me if I’ve misread this) – I used to stress out to no end if I couldn’t recall a piece of information in a few seconds.
      What I would say is that the bulk is probably all already in your mind and you’re freaking out over ‘all the things I don’t know!!!!’ without seeing how small they are.

      For example, I used to do big chunks of exam questions (e.g. all the questions on acids/bases) in one go and then correct them straight away. As I was correcting them, I always felt like I was doing so badly that sometimes I would want to scrap it all, revise the chapter from scratch and try them again. However, I forced myself to persevere and then added up my total score across all of the questions only at the very end. I always found that I had done way better than expected.

      Nonetheless, those little pieces I hadn’t known would still bother me so I would write a list of every marking-scheme-definition/exam technique/method/etc. down on another sheet as I corrected the questions. Then I would review that list the next day, the next week, a month later and then finally 3 months later. That was really reassuring for me.

      It wasn’t so easy in languages because every time I ‘mastered’ an Irish story, I would feel like I had forgotten all of the others, or that my previous essays hadn’t been ‘good enough.’ However, with a language, every answer you write will be better than the last so it is natural to feel that way. Remember that those skills are transferable and so you should be able to write a better essy on the stories you think you’ve forgotten than you did last time, just because you know the language better.

      The only way for me to feel (almost) 100% confident was to do every past science question completely right and mark them. You can probably guess that that rarely happened. Still doing exam questions and marking them will force you to see your knowledge objectively – you have to be reasonable and recognise good marks when you get them.

      Please do leave a reply so I can know if this was useful or if I have just projected my past self onto you butr totally misunderstood your situation.

    2. No, you have completely understood me. Just today I had a meltdown about not being able to recite a geography essay perfectly. However, once I began writing it, rather than rambling to the walls, I realized it was better than I expected. My Christmas exams are tomorrow, so intense study mode is on! I do the same thing for Biology and Chemistry, topic by topic, question and question and feel silly if I can’t remember something exactly or if I get a definition slightly mixed up. For Irish, I struggle with grammar but with things like the Tuiseal Gnideach and whether a noun is masculine or feminine, things we haven’t covered yet. However, I feel that is what will bring my mark down. The stories and essays are fairly good as I made sure to master them and improve any little errors.

      Thanks so much for your help! Genuinely thought I was the only manic perfectionist out there! I think I just need to focus more on what I know, the time and effort I’ve put in and to just believe in myself!

    3. Sounds like you’re getting a grip on things. Just on Irish grammar, my teacher only rushed over the Tuiseal Ginideach he said we could do very well without it. However, I felt that my mistakes had to be distracting the examiner and when I learnt the grammar rules at home I found that my marks became much more consistent. I really feel that teachers should teach grammar earlier on in the year because so much of it is just practice! My advice is to learn what you can at home and apply it in every sentence, then learn from your mistakes. Don’t worry about nailing it, but seriously knowing the basics will really improve your writing and give you much more confidence. However, you should only take this on if you’re pretty good at Irish because the rules are very complicated, although they are worth learning! Like a really big cherry on a cake.

      Honestly though it’s not worth stressing over. Self belief all the way 🙂


  20. Hi, I study maths, Irish,English, home ec, geography, ag science, lcvp, French all honours, just wondering could you email on any notes you have on these subjects

    1. We only overlap on maths, Irish, French and English. I don’t really have many notes that would be of use as the only notes that are really useful are your own. For example, I have tables of French/Irish vocab on different subjects that last pages. I could send them, but I only learnt from them when making them – I would fill in one column in English with all the words/phrases I wanted (adding the French in another column as I went) and go back at the end, cover the French, and try to write it into a third column, correcting them at the end and highlighting the ones I didn’t know.

      I can send you a few samples but you learn the most from actually looking the words up yourself. Plus, you will find the recurring themes in your opinions. If you only learn mine and a topic you haven’t seen before comes up on the day, you probably won’t be able to come up with my opinion on it and will have to write your own without the vocabulary you would have learned by collecting words yourself.

      Having said that, sample answers are useful and I can send on a few if you name a couple of areas you want.

      Also, do you have Microsoft Excel? I have a great Irish resource but it only works in Excel.

      Sorry if this isn’t the answer you’re looking for. I am not possessive of my work, but you won’t learn much from it.


  21. Hi Ollie,
    Massive congratulations on your results, what an outstanding achievement you must be so proud! How do you find college life, what are you actually studying?!
    Firstly I just what to know have you got any advice re the length of an Irish essay? What would give you an A1 grade mark in your opinion? Secondly, I was just wondering whether you would be interest in selling any of your notes (English) as I live I cork and there are v few grinders that are available this late in the year and my English teacher is atrocious. I hoping to study pharmacy in UCC and while I don’t have the ‘LC stress’ yet English would be my main concern as I’m only scoring B1/A2 but I do not trust my teachers marking whatsoever. What texts did you do for your comparative?!
    Thankyou so much for this advice page, reading all the comments has really helped!

    1. I’m actually on a gap year, which has been one of the best decisions I have ever made (so far). I am so excited about college next year, but I am loving living in the moments I have now!

      My Irish essays were always pretty long, but I have heard a huge range of opinions on the length! As far as I’m concerned, 4 pages will ALWAYS be enough no matter who your examiner is – but it is quality, not quantity. The more you write, the more mistakes you can make. I could send you on a few if you’re interested.

      I actually don’t support selling notes really because I got so much support during my LC that I think it’s only fair that I help others out. I really can’t recommend my grinds teacher enough (Sean McNulty from and actually the best thing was that we always Skyped. He gave me a cheaper rate and I could organise the lessons for whenever suited! It was so convenient and I was free to email/call him if I needed help. The reason that I’m really stressing this is that I read pages and pages of English notes but none of them could actually TEACH me what I needed to know – notes are for revising, not learning.

      I went in to see my papers and got full marks in poetry and 69/70 in the comparative as far as I remember (I was totally delighted and had done not super well in the mocks!). I can send you on a few answers if you’d like, but honestly they’re the product of my work with my tutor – one hour with this guy is way more helpful than any of my essays. I know I sound like a walking advertisement, but I’m actually looking into writing as a career after working with him.

      For the comparative, I did A Doll’s House, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, and I’m Not Scared.

      Glad to be of help 🙂


  22. Hi Ollie I would like to congratulate you on your result from the bottom of my heart. I am in 5th year now and the year so far is going good however I feel I am becoming demotivated to study and doing homework as I am not fully aware what I would want to do after school. If you could please give me a word of advice and study tips I would be more than thankful. It scares and haunts me from day to day why I am becoming demotivated even when I want and I sit down to study I am missing this spark or this shine and this urge to study. It has been really bugging me and stressing and I would like to see how you would tackle the problem from you point of view thanks.

    1. What I would say is that motivation to study comes and goes in waves – fluctuation is normal. Having said that, I almost always ploughed through and studied to the best of my ability because I knew that the desire to study would come back, and I would look back on the blank pages in my study journal with regret. Sometimes anticipating that regret it unfortunately the strongest motivation you’ll have.

      If your lack of motivation has led to you not studying (I’m not clear based on your post), look at whatever you’re actually doing when you put aside time to study (even if this is just sitting down to study and doing nothing instead). Think about what you will be happy to have done a week, a month, and a few months from now. For example, I hardly ever watched tv in 5th/6th year because I knew I wouldn’t value that time at all even a week later. That also made me only go to things I really wanted to attend, like birthday parties and going to films 🙂

      I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do either (and still am not sure!), but I knew that I didn’t want to close any doors. Sometimes the dream that motivates you is knowing that you will have a dream someday and you don’t want it to be too late to achieve it!

      I know this post may not be super-uplifting but the truth is that while learning can be inspiring, studying rarely is. I always wanted to move forward with my learning, but I knew that I wouldn’t understand everything in the future without studying. Not studying makes it much harder to kindle the spark you have for learning.


  23. Hi, you said you have a great Irish resource that only works on Excel? Would you be able to please send it to me? Thank you so much

  24. I’ll share it with you by email 🙂 Sorry for the late reply and you can email any questions about how it works. Feel free to share it (although please don’t claim credit for it – I had to learn Excel to make it!).


  25. Hey Ollie,

    Thank you so much for your post it was definitely an eye-opener! I was just wondering if you have any tips for studying Chemistry? My teacher is terrible in terms of the experiments and I’m struggling with Organic. I do grinds in the Institute which are helping, but we haven’t looked at organic yet. Also my Christmas exams are on Monday! Would appreciate your help 🙂

    1. I know it’s probably too late for your Christmas exams, but here’s my advice anyway and hopefully you will be able to apply it for the LC.

      I really can’t stress this enough – the key to success in any science subject is understanding the material, and (actually more importantly) doing exam questions and marking them yourself. Be strict and only give yourself marks when you know your answer definitely would get them in the LC (i.e. almost/exactly the same wording as on the marking scheme).

      While it is great to know all of the experiments, it is vital that you know all of the organics and all of the titrations as these are guaranteed. Having said that, there were a few other experiments I really liked and knew I would answer on if asked (e.g. anion tests). For me, I found it hard to remember all of the different chemicals for each experiment and why they were used so I needed to use all of those really cheesy study tricks like mnemonics and word association at first. That helped me get a grip on the chemicals.

      However, they only use a handful of chemicals on the LC and if you can get your head around some key concepts it makes figuring out the answer a bit easier. For example, you should know why each example is not a primary standard, why your add dilute H2SO4 with KMnO4.

      For the titrations, I also went through the Q’s and made a summary sheet so I wouldn’t get confused between them (which I will email to you if you want it but can’t attach here).

      I found this document really useful:'s%20Manual.pdf

      The only problems are that it doesn’t have the new experiments and doesn’t cover calculations. I copied it all into a document and took out the answers. Then I would try to answer them myself and highlight any that I got wrong. I redid the ones I struggled with later on until I knew them really well. I think I even just rushed through the end of the document close to the LC, but still it really helped me.

      Make sure you can do all of the calculations. Do the non-exam questions in your book first to get your head around concepts if you’re struggling.

      Finally, if you can answer every past question on experiments, you will be set for the exam (except the new experiments, which could definitely come up – e.g. solvent extraction). Honestly, they hardly ever ask an original question and the more you do the questions, the more you’ll see that.

      In particular with the organic experiments, but this applies to all of them, it is really important to know why you do each step and what it does chemically and in terms of appearance. The document above will help with that and if you want more, check out the Chemistry Live textbook. My own chemistry book was pretty awful for explaining experiments, but CL justifies each step as you go.

      Hope that helps. It’s really about ploughing through all of the material and putting in the hours. Eventually it will click, but I found the experiments really hard too as even when I understood everything, I still had to learn some parts off.


    2. Thanks so much! I passed my chemistry anyways but it really was the experiments that let me down. Thank you for the document too that’ll be really useful for me. If you could send the summary to [email protected] that’d be great too 🙂

  26. Hi Ollie, I’m repeating my leaving cert this year to *hopefully* get into Medicine. One of my biggest worries is the hours I’m putting in. How many hours a day did you do during the week, and on the weekends? My 8 subjects are French,Irish, English, Maths, Business, Biology, Home ec and Music. The only subjects we cross over on, that I’d plan on A1s in, are Biology and Irish – I got a B1 in Biology last year – How would I even go about getting an A1? Irish I achieved only a B2! I put that down to definitely not knowing my grammar! French is also something I’m worried about, I’ve always loved French but only got a C1 in my leaving, The school I’m in this year makes me hate french! It’s by far my worst subject! How can I improve? – Planning on a B1! Any study tips in general and time management would be *SO* helpful! Thank you in advance – The freaking out repeat student. 🙂

    1. In hindsight, my biggest flaw in the LC was focusing on quantity of study instead of quality. Every day, I would try to get to a certain number of hours. This was helpful at first to make myself study, but over the year my idea of what was a ‘good’ amount of time slowly escalated until it was totally unreasonable and I would stay up late going over material that couldn’t stick given how tired I was, just so I could do the hours.

      Having said that, I know that it is annoyingly vague for me to say ‘as much as you can!’ so I will give you a guide. Frankly, I get asked a lot of the same questions so I am going to copy and paste a bit from earlier that I still stand by:

      For sixth year, I did around 3.5-4.5 hours of ‘new’ study each night and 30 mins/an hour of continuous revision. On weekend days, I aimed for at least 4 hours per day but maximum 6 (unless I was freaking out and did more hours, which weren’t productive anyway). This may seem like a lot – I’d say it came in at 4/4.5 hours of study each day. I found that this was what I was able to do (on some days I could do more, and on some I should have done less because I was really exhausted). Don’t continue just to reach an ‘acceptable’ time if you’re not studying effectively.

      Seriously, exam questions are the key to biology. Every now and then they will ask a new questions, but if you can answer every other question this will not hold you back from an A1 at all.

      For French, it depends on what you’re struggling with. Pretty much all of the paper needs practice and vocabulary. My best strategy was that for writing, I would always do each piece AT LEAST twice in the same evening. The first time, I would stick to what I already could say (regardless of whether or not I agreed with it) and only write basic sentences that I was 100% confident on – just like you should do in an exam. As my French improved, so did what I considered ‘basic’ until my ‘basic’ answers were A1 standard and I was really pushing myself with the second answer. It is important that you don’t use anything to help you out for this answer. This answer tells you where you are grade-wise.

      The second answer was the opposite. This was my real, complex opinion which I didn’t simplify at all and forced myself to express through French. I would use the internet to look for exactly the right vocabulary and tenses, scrolling through grammar forums by French speakers just to find the exact right preposition. If you come up with more than one way to express an idea, write down whichever you think is best and then write the second at the bottom of the answer. Get your teacher to correct both and tell you which is better and WHY. This is the more important answer (until May-ish when exam strategy becomes more important than learning more). I wouldn’t bother getting it graded as you should just be pushing your French to really master the corrections, which you will then apply in the next ‘answer 1.’

      If I had a few different opinions on an issue, I would write all of them (separately!) and make a list of all of the new vocabulary I came across along the way. Don’t be afraid to really challenge yourself! For example, if you want to love French again then write with it as a language, not just a mark-gainer! One of my favourite phrases in almost every answer was ‘on se lance dans le tourbillon quotidien d’activité.’ French is a language – have a relationship with it! Recognise it with the poetic language it deserves!

      Also, I have advice on the oral above. It is very easy to substantially improve your mark in the oral just by knowing the marking scheme and using it. For example, try the accent! Know the common pitfalls (e.g je suis 18 ans is UNFORGIVABLE, as is ‘beaucoup des’) and speak with confidence (this actually get marks on the scheme).

      Sounds like you know what your problem is in Irish. If you are struggling with irregular verbs, I can email you a helpful Excel spreadsheet if you’re interested (I mentioned it in another reply above).


  27. Hi Ollie!
    Loved reading this post and wondered if you could help me.
    Ever since I started secondary school iv never been very good in school as the social aspect always got the better half of my attention and now I’m baring the consequences. I’d love to know if you would be able to give me some advice. I’m in leaving cert and I feel I know absolutely nothing and I honestly think there’s nothing I can do. I get these bursts of motivation and then when I start to do something I suddenly realise how far I have to go to even considering doing well in the leaving cert. I feel so down about myself and the one thing I really don’t want to do is repeat. I also haven’t a clue (like none at all) what I want to study in college when I leave school which makes things 100 times worse.
    I’d be so greatful for any advice you may have!

    1. I don’t have to tell you what you already know – you have a perspective issue. For whatever reason, you are determined to hold yourself back, but you should know that you are the only person who can do this. It sounds like you keep beating yourself up and being defeatist about your own future. You wouldn’t take this attitude from anyone else, so why take it from yourself?

      Maybe you know absolutely nothing, but that has no bearing on what you can know by June. Every time you study, leave satisfied in the knowledge that you are not where you want to be today, but you are close than you were yesterday.

      You really don’t want to repeat, so study! If nothing else, use that as your motivation! In June, I knew that I had worked as hard as I could have and so would never repeat, no matter what my marks were – there would be no point. You say you want to do ‘well,’ but who is setting this standard? You are doing better than ‘well’ every time you improve, even if your marks are not your ideal results. Don’t get yourself down for not reaching other people’s standards – the only person you need to compete with is yourself.

      Pessimism is holding you back. For example, you say that you don’t know what you want to do in college and that that ‘makes things 100 times worse.’ No excuses! I’m on a gap year because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I used this as an asset. For all I knew, I would want to study something with crazy-high points by the time I made up my mind. By not studying today, you are closing doors you don’t know you’ll want to be open in the future. Don’t let not studying make your decision for you by limiting your options – study, and empower yourself to be in charge of your own future! I know it sounds over-dramatic, but not studying forces you into certain courses and out of others. It is not too late to take control!

      This is what I mean about your attitude inhibiting you – not knowing what you want to do can help you if you use it to your advantage!

      Please don’t be so hard on yourself and remember that your future is worth putting in the work now.


  28. Hi Ollie,

    Your dedication to answering all the comments so well is fantastic, not many people would be bothered! I’m currently in 5th year and studying all the subjects you did for the LC. I’m studying applied maths outside of school and really enjoy it the majority of the time but tend to struggle with some of questions from the book at times. The subject as a whole eats away at a lot of my time and so although I enjoy it I am not sure it is worth the extra time anymore, my question is, is AM a good subject to sit the LC in? Overall is the extra work worth it, does it get much more difficult after relative velocity (where I’m at now)? Could I turn up on the day, and the paper not go my way (get some very difficult questions) and end up getting a terrible grade or does that happen? I’m not very informed on what the exam itself is like so any help would honestly be appreciated!


    1. Ok, being honest I could have done engineering (although it would have been even hard to find classes), but I chose applied maths. Why? Just look at a the stats!

      I already knew I was interested, but seeing that almost 30% of students get some kind of A was definitely a selling point! The nature of applied maths is that some chapters will suit you and others won’t. Good thing you have lots of choice! Having said that, we covered 9 out of 10 chapters in my class, so I had a lot of choice – ask your teacher how many they intend to cover.

      I really struggled with relative velocity, and found some other chapters pretty manageable. It only really clicked a few months after I had studied it, and even then I did pretty much every questions since 1976 to get to that point! Start out with book questions, then OL questions, and then finally HL questions on chapters you find hard. As with any subject, doing and correcting as many questions as possible to understand your errors is invaluable.

      With relative velocity, I found that I kept classifying each velocity incorrectly, which set off my entire answers! It was as simple as realising this and taking control of it, but ‘simple’ doesn’t mean easy! It took a lot of questions, but I liked the challenge of really understanding my work. The best strategy for me was to keep going through part (a)’s until I found them too easy. Then I would try the (b)’s one at a time, and try to understand my mistakes. Then I would do the question again, unaided, the next day and see if I could do it. Repeat the next week until you are confident you understand the theory, then look for a similar question.

      I honestly think I wanted to give up after RV the first time I covered it because it was so hard, but I was too interested in the subject to abandon it. I even considered continuing the class as a hobby without doing the exam!

      I can’t tell you if it is taking up too much of your time. I would say, however, that AM does require a lot of time for everyone (except that one ‘genius’ we all know who ‘never studies’ and aces it).

      It sounds like you need to understand the paper itself a bit more. Look at how it is laid out and mark your own answers for linear motion. This will show you how easy it is to get a fair amount of marks. In most chapters, You will at least be able to do part (a). That is usually 40%, and you honestly get so many marks without getting the answer. Usually the actually answer is only 5 marks out of the whole question!

      Statistically, you will not get a ‘terrible’ grade in AM if you put in the work you clearly are giving it. AM has one of the highest failure rates of any LC subject, but also one of the highest rates of honours. Most of the people who fail are actually HL physics and maths students who figure they can just take a stab at the exam without studying it at school. I’m sure you can see why they don’t pass. If you enjoy AM, you have nothing to lose. It is a great subject that really pushes you, makes mechanics in physics very easy, and should give you a good mark.

      Sorry this answer is so long, but I would hate to see someone give up on AM thinking that a ‘good’ grade was unachievable!


  29. Hi Ollie, congrats on your Outstanding Leaving Cert results! And as Ciara mentioned above, the amount of help you are giving us is outstanding! Thanks so much! I’m currently in fifth year as well and I am also doing the same subjects as you, however I am doing accounting instead of Irish. Like many people here, I am also aiming for Medicine. I was wondering where you put the line between getting enough sleep and study. I have to leave my house at 7:30 each morning and wake up at 7. But I always end up wondering where all my time went and am usually not finished the tasks at hand until 11 some days(due to my terrible time management and amazing procrastination skills). Would you be able to explain how you managed your time? Also, how did you keep on top of your mathematical subjects, like how would you have studied them? Did you ever find applied maths difficult? Because I didn’t get a satisfactory grade but my teacher insists that it is perfectly fine and I just can’t get the hang of it yet. Finally, did you have a timetable? Because I have made one but I’m never able to go by it. Thank you, I hope this doesn’t take too long but I really appreciate your help! 🙂

    1. Hi!

      Sorry for the delay, I’m writing college applications and this is actually a break! I found making sleep/study boundaries pretty tough, but I had to recognise that I was exhausted at school. Also, I started to judge myself for not going to bed late because it meant I was lazy! Even if I just watched TV for the rest of the night after studying!

      It really helped me to just put my goals into perspective. If a topic took longer than expected, I recognised that I would have time to do the others I had planned the next day. I really pushed myself to exhaustion some days and it just wasn’t healthy at all. Remember that the later you stay up, the less you’ll get done the next day. I took naps when I needed them, tried to do something relaxing every day after school (usually running or music), and continuously asked myself if I was doing my study properly, or just sitting at my desk to clock up the hours. If it was the latter, I made myself go to bed or relax. At one point, I forgot what it felt like to be properly rested! If that happens, make yourself get at least 8.5 hours (9 is better) for a week so you can learn to take care of yourself again. For sure, doing the running/music before study really made me take time out to relax, because I found that I would study until I went to bed most days, so it was easier to make myself relax before I got tied up in my work.

      I made myself sheets of questions for each chapter in the maths book as we finished them and made sure I was able to do and understand each question the day I studied it, the next day, a week later, a month later, and 3 months later. You really have to try to understand the material because project maths really pushes your understanding by making you try new applications in the exam. Once you understand it, do as many exam Q’s as possible. Warning: they are going to scare you s***less the first time. Try to work one out without time limits, then look through a solution and check where you went wrong/what you don’t understand, then try it again. Try it again the next day. Keep trying until you understand every single step and then do another. If a Q is really hard even after you’ve seen the solution, move on and come back to it once you’ve done others on the same topic.

      I found applied maths really hard, but all it took was hard work. It wasn’t an impossible subject at all, it’s just one that takes a lot of effort to click. It really is the kind of subject you just need to ‘get the hang of,’ but that takes more work than the words imply! By doing loads of questions, one day it will just click.

      I had a rough timetable. While I put times on, they weren’t realistic and I’d pretty much just spend as long as I needed to on a topic instead of continuing on to get to one hour without doing anything extra. I made the timetable to make sure I studied every part of every course. For example, I gave 40 minutes to the experiments in each science each week (most people forget them until the last minute). I had designated days for oral work and listening, as well as the Irish poems. I had times for English poetry/comprehension/drama/etc. While I didn’t stick to it rigidly, it meant that I was always aware of what I had to do and never forgot anything (ok, well not never…). It’s a good idea to have some kind of structure, but nothing too prescriptive. If I was struggling in one area or felt that I was on the brink of really getting it, I would just do that instead.


  30. Hi Ollie,
    Thanks again for all your advice for general study etc. However I was wondering how did you tackle the composing section in English Paper I? So far, I feel that the short story is the most appealing option as you can prepare a ‘collection’ of stories and tweak the plots accordingly on the day. This is slightly more assuring than the other styles. For instance no matter how many articles, speeches and debates you write, you will have to compose something from scratch. This idea completely terrifies me!

    The downside to the short story is that, while I’m trying to write as many good, broad essays as I can, it’s incredibly time consuming. In total, I only have four essays written…FOUR.. sure, they all scored well, but I spent weeks writing them. In your experience, what was the least time consuming style of writing and/or the easiest to work with on the day?

    1. Some people are great at writing on the spot. I am not one of those people and I want to be an author. The short story is an art form, and I am in awe (and slightly suspicious) of anyone who can write a masterpiece in 75 minutes! I always knew I wouldn’t be able to write brilliantly on the day although the essays I wrote at home scored highly, so for a long time I veered towards spontaneous debates although my strength was in story-writing. It was a mistake.

      As I mentioned above, I tried really hard to avoid learning anything off. However, there was one thing I decided to follow word for word – the advice of my English tutor! He was absolutely fantastic on exam technique, and he helped me craft a few essays/stories to A1 standard. In the end, I perfected 4 and learnt off 3 (and I do mean word for word there, but it gave me loads of time in P1). Having said that, you have to be clever to use a pre-composed story!

      1. Make sure your essays are BEAUTIFUL. Every word is considered and meaningful. There is no point learning off something you are not 100% confident will get you the grade you want if a good question comes up.

      2. There is always a good question if you are smart about it. My tutor and I went through past papers with the three essays I had learnt off. Every year, I made sure that I could use at least one of them for every one of the short story prompts – there will usually be one ‘easy’ one and a harder one to adapt your story to, but you should practice with both. We discussed how I would adapt the stories for each title and how to pick my strongest adaptation (i.e. most directly relevant piece) on the day.

      This gave me plenty of time for the rest of paper 1 and put my mind at rest. I was lucky in that it was easy to shape my favourite story into the prompt on the day, but to be honest you make your own luck by learning the skills of writing and adaptation, as well as learning off 3/4 pieces. Sorry if that sounds over-confident but the more you prepare, the ‘luckier’ you’ll be!


    2. The short story definitely is challenging but well worth it, if done well. So if I try to write stories that are broad with universal themes, then hopefully I should have something to go with on the day. If not, then the skills I’ve accumulated through practice should get me through! For me, the essay is probably the most daunting task in the entirety of the Leaving Cert. so if I can get the hang of it then I’ll feel so much better about the whole thing. Thanks so much!

  31. Hey, in one of your replies you said that you did 30mins/1hourof continuous revision. What did you mean by that? Thank you

    1. Sorry for the delay (I think all my posts start like that). Every day, I looked over what I had done exactly one day before, one week before, one month before, and three months before. It was the only way I found I could make sure that all of the information stuck.

      I can give more info on this if you want, but that was the basic idea.


  32. Sorry I’m only after seeing your reply to my comment! Thanks so much honestly, it’s helped me realise that not everyone that does well in it picked it up right off the cuff! We’re doing 7 of the questions I think! I’m the same I would give it up to save myself time and energy but I actually do enjoy it so I’ll keep it up and see where it takes me!
    Thanks again,

  33. Edrees Siddiqi

    Hi Ollie, congratulations on your outstanding results! I have my mocks in a month and a half’s time but I’m really worried for English and history. My English teacher is terrible! Every time I do an essay whether it’s on poetry or king Lear, he leaves very little feedback along with an average mark. I always ask him for more feedback but all he writes is ” improve expression “. I don’t know my poems to well nor my texts and king Lear!! I have notes but they aren’t useful because they are from the book This Is Poetry and half the country will have the same interpretation of the poems as I do. Also history ( I know you didn’t do it ), although I get A’s in most of my essays, I feel like I don’t know my topics that well and my writing speed isn’t the fastest. Furthermore, I’ve been doing good study in the rest of my subjects but I’m reaching the ‘ exhaustion ‘ stage. I’m lacking inspiration because I don’t know what to study in university yet!! Any advice on careers and study??

    Please Ollie help me!

    1. Challenge your teacher! If he says ‘improve expression,’ then dig deeper! Ask him what he means and how he thinks you should go about it (don’t be rude, just ask for his advice). Otherwise, I would highly recommend reading essays online and your friends’ essays because they will show you how you should be phrasing your points. I can send you an essay if you want an example (don’t post your email address here, it comes into my inbox with the comment).

      You have to put time into your texts and there is no other way to ‘know’ them. A lot of my English study was just thinking about the texts and the different arguments I found the most interesting. It doesn’t matter how great your expression is if you don’t know your texts. Form an opinion on the text’s characters, and you will find it more interesting and come up with more interesting points yourself.

      This doesn’t mean that you should know every highlighted quote, or all of the ones your teacher says are important (I really hate that). Only learn the quotes you want to use, and find your own if they’re not given to you.

      If you’re not happy relying on the book’s notes (and you’re right not to be), make your own! Try to engage with the language and make your own points, even if the interpretation is the same. What helped me was combing through each poem with a list of poetic techniques in mind and finding any that were there. Then I would try to think about why the poet used that technique and make an interesting point about that. This can be as easy or advanced as you want, but either way it shows a depth of analysis. For example, in September 1913, Yeats juxtaposes the image of those who were ‘born to pray and save’ with ‘the brave’ who ‘weighed so lightly what they gave.’ The use of contrast here highlights both Yeats’ disdain for his contemporaries, and his glorification of the past. It’s a simple technique to spot, but easy to write about well.

      Keep revising your history topics over and over just in bullet points so you can revise them quickly and often – that will make them stick. Images are great, too. Writing quickly is a skill and, like all skills, practice makes perfect. If you’re not happy with your speed, change it! You have months to go! If you’re writing anything at all, think of the sentence first and then write it as quickly as you can. Soon writing more quickly and as you have the ideas will become second nature.

      In terms of motivation and not knowing what to study, I’m on a gap year! That’s the definition of not knowing what to do (ok, not always true, but it was for me)! Just know that you want to do something and that the harder you work now, the more doors will still be open when you get your results.

      Please do not exhaust yourself. If you’re doing fine in your other subjects, maybe take your foot off the pedal for a while and focus on English. If you can improve your expression, it will bring your marks up across every section of the paper. My advice is to concentrate on this now, as it is a skill and the more time you give yourself to refine it, the better. Your other subjects probably are more information-based than skill-based, so relax a bit. Keep them going, but recognise that it’s time to put more active effort into English. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but believe me, I was in the same boat as you this time last year.


  34. Edrees Siddiqi

    Hi Ollie

    I need your advice, I’m going through the exhaustion stage and it’s the Christmas holidays and the mocks are coming up soon. I feel like my study isnt that productive especially in English where I have notes but I don’t have trust in them as I feel everyone else in the country will have the same answer as me because we all carry the same interpretation as the poetry book and key notes. Please give me advice on how to crawl out of this tiredness stage and how to study for English from now till the mocks.


  35. Could you also give any advice on how much work I should do this Christmas holidays and just general advice on studying during the holidays. I need to get all A1’s

  36. Hi Ollie, i am really worried about the essay in English paper 1. My teacher has not focused on this at all this year and my mocks are in just over a month. How many Essays should i prepare?

  37. Hi Caoimhe,

    Apologies for the delay – only seeing your comments now. For continuous revision, I made short notes on everything I did and kept a study journal as mentioned above. Then I quickly looked over everything I did on one day the day after, a week after, a month after, and three months after by quickly looking through these notes. It’s a lot of work but the information sticks. Memory is about revising often and quickly.

    I’ll admit that I don’t know you, but you don’t need all A1s. Sorry for not getting back to you during the holidays – I hope you took a bit of a break. Whatever you did/do, relax for a good week after the mocks. Telling yourself you need all A1s isn’t helping you to get them. Honestly, no matter what course you want just do your best whatever that is. You won’t get to all A1s by putting that much pressure on yourself.

    Take it easy, it sounds like you’re doing fine.


  38. Hi Ciara,

    I prepared a bunch of essays to refine my writing style, but in the end I only learned off 3 of them. It depends on how broad you can make them. By the end, I was pretty sure I had one I could apply to any title. See how you get on in the mocks with what you have and work from there. Also, if your teacher hasn’t focused on the essay, ask him/her to do a class on it! Nothing ventured, nothing gained – I always asked my teachers to go over things I wasn’t confident in. Whatever they say, take initiative yourself and prepare essays yourself for them to correct. Nothing beats one-to-one feedback so this would be even better than your teacher focusing on them. Even if you start out completely clueless, you’ll learn by trying and really pushing for feedback.

    Remember that the mocks aren’t the big day, so just learn from how they turn out. Don’t worry about having all your essays perfect!


  39. Hi Ben,

    I know a lot of people find this daunting, but seriously your best bet is to just learn the language itself and be able to make the sentences up naturally by yourself. You may be panicking because of the mocks, but they’re not the real deal. If you can make up the phrases yourself you will benefit in every part of Irish.

    My advice is to look at the sentences and ask questions about them. Why is that verb there? Why is there a séimhiú there? What does that word mean? If you thoroughly question everything, you’ll learn why they are how they are and learn to make them up yourself.

    You have 20 picture series to learn. Learning off all the sentences just isn’t practical.


  40. Hi Ollie , the mocks are coming up soon and I’m so scared for it . What’s the best advice to handle the mocks and not feel so overwhelmed ? Thanks ,Ellie

  41. Hey Ollie, brilliant to see you taking your time to help others! I want to ask do you have any tips to study french? My teacher is not great at all, and unfortunately im stuck in a class where not a lot of people are taking the subject seriously so its hard to concentrate. Im studying it at honours and i have mocks coming up very soon, and the stress is starting to kick in haha. Thanks in advance!

  42. Hi Ellie,

    I’m really glad you asked this question. Honestly, the mocks will be as stressful as you want them to be. Most people place way too much importance on the marks they get in the mocks but that’s not what the mocks are about at all.

    The mocks are a tool like a hammer. If you wanted to nail something (like the exams, haha) you wouldn’t be scared of the hammer. Don’t fear the mocks. They are a progress report and an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. There is no point in fearing what that report says, you’re just avoiding the reality of where you are right now academically. The situation is still the same, but at least with the mocks you know it.

    The mocks are a great opportunity to just practise sitting the exams and see your weak spots. Don’t push yourself too hard for the mocks or you will be exhausted. They are just a tool and a really useful one if you approach them the right way (i.e. constructively). If you don’t they’re just a waste of time.


  43. Hi Ryan,

    It depends on what section you’re studying, but overall my advice is to learn the language before you try to learn for the exam. I have a lot of advice above about French. Press ctrl+f (or cmd+f for mac users) and search ‘French’ (or ‘language’) for my tips.

    If your question still isn’t answered, get back to me.


  44. Hi Ollie,

    Congrats on your outstanding results!! I’m currently in fifth year and I am hoping to study med. I’m studying 8 honours subjects and I’m finding it difficult to find time for study after homework. I am hoping to achieve 6-7 A1s. I am concerned for Irish, I am wondering do you have any vocab for essays prose and poetry?? My subjects are English Maths Irish French Italian biology chemistry geography. I know that if I work very hard in the other subjects I can achieve high marks but I am worried about getting an A1 in Irish as I feel examiners are so pickey!! Any advice for achieving top marks in Irish??

  45. Hi Bronagh,

    As I’ve mentioned above, my advice is to do study before homework. That way you don’t allow yourself to drag your homework out to avoid study and you do your study when you’re most energetic.

    Search ‘Irish’ (as described in my reply to Ryan directly above your comment) to find my advice on Irish in general. With languages it’s about really trying to actually learn the language. I know teachers always play this down but I found knowing my grammar really empowering becasue I felt confident forming sentences myself. After that it’s about practise and that’s how you come across and learn the vocabulary you will actually use. Without intending to, I found I always made similar points about oppression/identity/independence for any poem/prose piece. That’s how I identified the words I actually wanted to use myself.

    Start by just writing a load of answers and getting them corrected. Learn from your grammar mistakes and pick up the vocabulary you will use again. For me, all of the stories were about love/respect/oppression/finding a perfect world but that was my own I interpretation.

    I could just give you a list of all the vocab I learnt but it would be no use to you because:
    1. You will be making your own points with different words
    2. You won’t learn from anyone else’s condensed work. You learn by condensing the material yourself.

    Never underestimate the oral and practice every week! Don’t leave it too late!

    Also work as best you can and don’t worry about the grades. Whether I was getting 32%, 67% or 99% (or even 100%) I always aimed to learn more and refine my skills regardless of where I was starting with them. There’s no point in putting pressure on yourself with goals at this point. My approach was always to try to actually learn first before tailoring my knowledge to suit the exams – both steps are crucial. If you learn off all the material that comes your way you can probably get a B2 – A2 but A1s really take understanding the subjects until you can think for yourself in the exam, even if only to adapt old material.

    Hope this isn’t too vague and preachy!


  46. Hello Ollie,
    I think you did a great job with your LC. I wish I could at least do half like you as well.
    I have some questions though. I am Romanian and I moved in Ireland in the summer of 2015. I am currently in 4th year, but I am already stressed out with the subjects choices. I am a real hard worker and I like studying, but the thing is that now I am concerned about maths. I don’t know if I should pick or not HL maths as it seems to me very difficult, even though I like it. How did you find maths in 5th and 6th year and do you have any advice on how I should deal with it?

  47. Hi Ollie!

    Just a really quick question here; how much time did you spend studying throughout the week while you were in fifth year? My study is going good, I just need to make sure I’m doing enough of it.


  48. Hi Andra,

    I really liked maths too. Each case is different, so ask your teacher if they think you are capable of trying higher level (to be honest, I don’t think you’d be considering it if you weren’t but it’s worth getting a teacher’s opinion). In my school, it was very easy to change to ordinary level at any point in 5th or 6th year. My advice is to stick with it as long as you can and ask your teacher as many questions as you need to. If you understand each chapter as you go through the course you should have no problem with it. Maths is a skill and if you are willing to give it time you will improve.

    Also, a very low percentage of students actually fail higher maths. It would be worth trying just for the 25 points, even if you didn’t like maths.

    Maths can be pretty hard at points, but I always asked my friends to explain things I wasn’t sure of, did loads of book questions before exam questions, and went to an Easter course. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Ollie 🙂

  49. Hi Michael,

    Not sure why I can’t reply directly anymore but hopefully you’ll see this anyway.

    The important thing is that you’re studying well, so well done there. Also fair play for studying in fifth year, it’ll really help.

    My advice is to do as much as you can while taking care of yourself. However, I know that is annoyingly vague. Looking over my study journal, here are some numbers:

    1. I did around 3-4.5 hours each day from January-May in fifth year. However, I didn’t count the time I spent doing continuous revision (for some reason) so it was probably a little more than this.

    2. This really isn’t my way of saying that I did 4.5 hours each night except when I was being a slacker. I averaged around 3.5 hours a day in January and increased this up to ~4.5 hours most days in May (sometimes more/less). I didn’t jump up to this number in May, but my endurance increased so I naturally found myself working longer. Don’t try to increase your study time drastically. If you are able to work more and have more work, try it. Over time, your endurance will increase.

    3. I was a part of an environmentalist group that meant I only did around 2 hours each Wednesday. Don’t worry about getting 4 hours every single day.

    4. I usually did more on Sundays (4-5 hours).

    5. I went away a fair bit on Gaisce hikes/with volunteering groups. Don’t worry too much about playing catch-up if you miss a day here and there.

    Again, I’m afraid this is a little misleading because I did continuous revision around this which would usually take 0.5-1 hour.

    Hope this helps. Ask away if you have more questions.


  50. Hi Ollie ,
    Thanks so much for your thorough advice and a huge congratulations on your fantastic results!

    I have a problem with partaking in displacement activities. For example I could say I’ll study from 4:30 until 8:00 PM but I’d probably spend atleast 1 hour of that procrastinating and organising my folders rather than actually understanding and learning material.

    I am very guilty of rote learning which works for business, geography, ag science etc but unfortunately not so much with French. I really struggle with French as I never really applied myself in the JC so I have quite a poor foundation. I’m not too bad with the aural and reading comprehensions but the written pieces really catch me out. We haven’t done much oral work at all but I imagine I’ll struggle with that to. Any advice on brushing up on my French?

    It’s going to have to be one of my top 6 next year (I’m in 5th year) so I’m aware I need to put the work in now before it’s too late. I always put things off because it seems so far away not because I’m lazy but because I have to prioritise as I simply don’t have enough time to get everything done.

    If you wouldn’t mind sharing what your 5th or 6th year daily routine was as I’m just finding there aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve my study goals.

    Thanks a million!

  51. Hi Sarah,

    Wish the direct reply thing still worked here but hopefully you’ll see this anyway.

    You said, “I’d probably spend atleast 1 hour of that procrastinating and organising my folders rather than actually understanding and learning material.” Probably? This is where the study journal comes in. You have to KNOW what you’re getting done. Mark in just the time you actually spend studying and you’ll get frustrated seeing how much time you studied vs how much time you gave to study. Your procrastination only hurts you – even if you only studied for the length of time you normally study for excluding procrastination, you’d at least get to relax longer afterwards. I’m sure you know all this but the journal gives accountability.

    Wrote learning works for now but you’re only in fifth year. There’s a lot of material to come so try to understand it.

    I reccommended a French grammar book above. Start with the orange book if your foundation is poor. Knowing grammar will give your writing confidence and coherency. I have pretty much given my advice for French above so press ctrl+f and search ‘French’ to find it. You should get explanations of the following:

    – write two versions of each opinion piece
    – practise for the oral by talking about one basic topic for as long as possible without bringing in any other topics
    – write vocabulary lists on topics and test yourself (not sure if I mentioned this above but I’ll check and write that next if not)

    Those are my key tips. If you want more details, message again.

    Also I went to an ELC summer camp over the summer which was great for my oral work. I would recommend these courses if you can go but they’re not essential.

    My routine for fifth year was pretty much school, walk home, snack, study for about 2 hours, go for a run, shower, make dinner/play piano, study for 2 hours, homework, continuous revision, bed. Sometimes I’d run straight after school if I was tired or had a lot of work to do to re-energise myself. Sixth year was the same but with less procrastination, less piano and more study. Plus more stress I’m afraid! Fifth year was OK but sixth year was very intense and I usually finished up quite late.

    “I simply don’t have enough time to get everything done.” Remember you have plenty of time before the actual exams. You may not feel you’re on top of everything today, but you don’t have to be! Not today anyway, just as long as you’re closer than yesterday.


  52. Hi Ollie,
    I’m currently in 6th year and it’s my last week of school before the mocks commence. In September I used to go through my books and make my own notes per chapter and had a plan due to end now to have all chapters covered in all of my subjects. About 3 weeks in in of my plan I started procrastinating and now I’ve nothing done. I know I’ll have to study to get my course but not much as the points are slightly lower than my predicted points if I just crammed in May before the exams in June. I was wondering is it too late to start studying now and if not, what do I have to do to get the best possible results I can achieve? By this I mean how would you recommend me to study and how often and for how long? Thanks for your help and we’ll done on your fantastic results,

  53. Hi Aidan,

    I didn’t have a lot of chapters covered by the mocks – there’s no point in rushing for ultimately inconsequential exams. Different people study differently but in my opinion the only time it is too late to start is when you have to cram. Cramming gives you a tiny bit more knowledge that you’ll actually remember but substantially adds to your panic!

    I’m not sure if you’re asking is it too late to study for the mocks or the LC – could you clarify? Either way the answer is no but the advice I’ll give is quite different.


  54. Hi Ollie, I was hoping you could give me advice for the short story. Short stories seem to be my strength for the composition section but i still am only achieving a B standard. Any advice would be great. Thank you!

  55. Hi Ollie,
    I was just wondering what the idea / plot was for each of the 4 stores you chose for Englis. What about each story made it possible for it to fit a title each year?

  56. Hi Ciara,

    Not sure I can help you out without more details. For example, your stories might be too descriptive/too slow/lack dialogue, or they may be too fast and punchy!

    If you were getting lower grades I would give you more general advice because you would need to improve in your overall approach (presumably). However, moving from a B to an A is much trickier and I can’t give any blanket advice to cover all of these scenarios.

    Feel free to reply with more details.


  57. Hi Jo,

    The key thing is to focus on a character and how they change. Try to avoid niche stories (e.g. sci-fi) – just pick a ‘normal’ situation with an obstacle and character development. If the focus is on emotions rather than on scenario, you should be able to adapt them. Still, it takes practice to link the stories to the titles and alter them accordingly (don’t expect to get away without writing ANYTHING new on the day).

    Write back if you’re still confused or have more questions.


  58. Hi Ollie,
    I am in fifth year ,I was hoping if you could give me some advice on how to study for my subjects.I am Doing Maths,English,French,Biology,Chemistry and Physics.I only have 6 subjects and everyday my goal is i am going to study this and that.But i think i am spending too much time on one subject.I am not good with Languages and i am stressing out already because i only have 6 subjects and that i won’t be able to get the points for the course i want.
    Some advice would be a great help
    Thanks 🙂 🙂

  59. Hi Ollie,
    Firstly I think its highly commendable the way you are so consistent in replying to peoples comments .I’m currently in 6th year and am relatively stress free regarding exams ,I feel i’m more or less on top of all my subjects.However although my English teacher is good,as she has covered all poetry,comparative and we are finishing up our single text she had done little to no work on the composition aspect of paper 1.Having read the above comments and advice I have come to realize i am seriously unprepared for this aspect of the exam! I was wondering would you mind emailing me one of the short stories that you used which allowed you to manipulate its content to suite any question.It would not be to copy but to simply gain an insight into how you would approach creating a relatively broad short story that I could recreate and alter slightly to suite the titles given .

    1. Hi Keane,

      Well done for thinking about the LC in fifth year. You’re already off to a head start. I’ll number my responses to correspond to your questions.

      1. ‘In 5th year, would you say it is enough to do your homework really well and study for class tests?’
      In summary, no. Don’t panic! Most people don’t study much in fifth year so it depends on what you mean by ‘enough,’ but in my opinion it is vital that you study long-term in fifth year. It can help you get a grip on your material but let’s face it, a lot of it is forgotten over the summer. More importantly, studying in fifth year allows you to learn exam technique and to find how best you study long-term. A lot of people enter sixth year with no experience of studying for one exams for several months (the JC is not the same because you don’t really study exam technique). Fifth year is a time to find study techniques that suit you and to train yourself into the routine of studying for a few hours each day. You will waste time in sixth year learning the skills and discipline of studying if you don’t commit in fifth year. It’s also about learning to find a work/life balance that suits you so you don’t crash in sixth year. The good news is that the 3 months yoiu have left are plenty of time to practice.

      As a side note, abandon the ‘I need 570’ mentality and it will be easier to succeed. Great marks aren’t given to people for wanting them the most but for performing well. Perform well and the results will follow. Also, relax! There is always a plan B or another route into your course of choice.

      As for poor teachers, fifth year is about learning to get the best out of them and yourself. Hand up extra work and see what supports/time you will need for the subject in sixth year.

      2. With languages, and I can’t stress this enough, LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND THEN LEARN THE EXAM. TV5 do ‘le petit journal’ every day. Watch it for 10 minutes. You won’t understand anything the first day but by the time the exam comes around it will be easy peasy. For the opinion pieces, I didn’t learn anything off. There will be questions that surprise you and you will have to be able to write fresh material to do well.

      3. Music was my ninth subject before I left it. I got As every week but I hated the material and the class was taking too much time out of my weekend. Did I then spend that time studying? Nope. But I needed more time to relax. If you’re only doing accounting because you’re scared French and Irish won’t go well, ask yourself why you’re scared. Are you doing your best in French and Irish? I can’t say if you should give up accounting, but it will be hard to keep up an extra subject you don’t love. I was doing worse in applied maths than in music, but I kept up the former because it was exciting while the latter was boring and draining (to me). I would recommend going to an ELC course for French if you get the chance. I did and it really improved my spoken and aural French.

      4. ‘99% of the paper will be something that has come up before.’
      It’s more like 84.49% to be honest. Focusing on exam papers is a great idea as long as you understand the material first. Learn the material, then the exam. To do really well you will have to be able to cope with new questions and thinking-based questions. Most people make the mistake of ignoring the marking schemes. The danger for exam-focused students is that they will forget the book. The marking schemes are your best friend. They are not your only friend.

      5. ‘How did you motivate yourself?’
      Motivation is very personal – what worked for me may not work for you but here’s what I did.

      I know it’s hard to believe with today’s education system but I am really passionate about learning so I always wanted to understand material in class. That helped me put in a few hours each day trying to understand the work. However, understanding needs to be tailored to the marking schemes, which isn’t exactly the pursuit of knowledge.

      I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was certain I wanted to keep learning and the place for me to do so (not necessarily for everyone) was university. The idea that I would not get to continue because I hadn’t studied a marking scheme was so annoying, but going that extra mile isn’t so much effort compared to the opportunities if gives.

      Once you get through the first few weeks with an idea-based motivationlike this, you get into the routine of study and you don’t rely on motivation as much – what motivates you to brush your teeth? It’s good hygiene but mostly it’s just a habit.

      Side note:
      ‘I am struggling to motivate myself to do extra work in 5th year (…) I just always end up getting bored and procrastinating.’
      That’s why you have to study in fifth year. If you can’t make yourself study this year you’ll face the same problems next year, no matter what you promise yourself. Learn the habit and sixth year will be much smoother and easier. Even if you can just do an hour a day by sixth year if won’t occur to you not to unless you actually need the break.

      6. ‘Do you know any good sources of notes? Making my own seems so time consuming and unproductive.’
      To be blunt, you’re approaching this wrong but at least you’ve asked in sixth year. Everyone thinks there are some magical perfect notes out there that will get an A1 I’d learnt off. The best notes are your own because you LEARN when MAKING notes and REFRESH when reading them. Find a style of note-making that suits you. Maybe you like mind maps, structured formats, or pretending to teach and writing your notes on a ‘whiteboard’ as you go (i.e. paper stuck up on the wall). Fifth year is about finding a system that is efficient and effective for you. Feel free to expire other notes just to learn to write your own.

      Besides, if you can’t write the notes quickly how will you write an exam answer? You can’t expect to learn everything off.

      Ask away with any more questions or any I forgot to address.

      Sorry if this was too blunt!


  60. To be honest I’ve been under stress and putting myself under pressure but its alright now . Well done on your grades and thanks for your advice above about studying through your comments.

  61. Hi Ollie,
    Firstly, congratulations on your results! I’d only dream of perfecting the Leaving Cert as you did. I have a few questions for you which I hope you can take the time to answer. I am currently in 5th Year and I do English Maths Irish (all HL) French Geography Business Biology and Accounting outside of school. I’m stressing a lot lately thinking about the Leaving Cert and next year:
    1. In 5th year, would you say it is enough to do your homework really well and study for class tests?… because that is honestly what I do. I have just programmed my mind into thinking that I will start revising properly from day 1 6th year and I will get the couple of A1’s and A2’s I need. (I need about 570) I mean, I got 6A1’s in my christmas tests, besides Irish because I worked hard for them when they came around but I wouldn’t revise something a Biology Chapter I done in January in March, if that makes sense. I have subjects such as French and Geography when I very rarely get tested and they’re actually the 2 worst teachers that I have, do you think I should make an extra effort to learn stuff off such as essays or oral phrases now, or leaving it to 6th Year?
    2. As I said, My French teacher is pretty crap. My level of French is maybe above average in comparison to my class, but half of them are dossers who are doing OL for college, so I’m not sure how good I am actually doing which is so annoying. I seen what you said about the grammar book which is great but I’m wondering, how did you improve you listening in French. I’ve always found the aural exams so hard (even for Irish). As well as that, did you write a random opinion piece in the exam or was it learned off?
    3. I read that you dropped out of Music? Was that an extra subject? I am doing Accounting outside of school and I have very little motivation to work on it. Me and my grinds teacher are going at a very slow pace and I feel I might have to work in the summer to get it up to scratch. But then again, i’m considering just dropping it and leaving myself with 7 subjects. But I’m fearful that French and Irish could both mess up on me, and I don’t really feel confident of getting an A1 grade in either as due to the level of grammar and vocabulary you need as well as the aural. Do you think that accounting will become too much work? I don’t even have a love for it yet (I could like it) but I’m not even putting in the work to know.
    4. My exam strategy is just learning off all the marking scheme answers for the subjects such as Biology Geography and Business, as I feel that 99% of the paper will be something that has come up before. Correct me if I’m wrong, but would that be a good idea?… Focusing mainly on exam oapers and marking schemes
    5. How did you motivate yourself? I know you said you didn’t really know what to do and you just thought it would give you more options but that must not have been enough to persuade yourself to work 4 hours a day for 2 years..!? I am struggling to motivate myself to do extra work in 5th year and it’s really bugging me, but I just always end up getting bored and procrastinating..
    6. Do you know any good sources of notes? Making my own seems so time consuming and unproductive.

    Sorry for everything being in so much detail I just really need some advice at this stressing time.

  62. Hi Joanna,

    Don’t worry about only having six subjects, just focus on the bonus that you get more time for each.

    I can’t really give you advice for all those subjects in one reply – even giving all my advice for any one of them would be way too long and cover too many points to read in one go.

    Please search each subject above using Ctrl+f (or Cmd+f) and entering the subject name. If you have any outstanding questions please get back in touch. I don’t want to clutter the page with repeated advice.


  63. Hi Clara,

    This isn’t what you want to hear but I don’t give out my writing. It would be of no use to you. My stories could be just like yours, it’s about developing the skill to adapt them.

    Everyone makes the mistake of thinking stories are about the storylines. They’re about the characters. Don’t make too much happen in your story and focus on emotions and personal development. Then you will be able to alter it on the day. If your storyline is too niche to be adapted, it’s the focus rather than the storyline that’s the problem. You could write about aliens as long as you emphasised character development and obstacles.

    It’s not the storyline.

    Good to hear that you are on top of everything else. If you need any specific help with an essay just get in touch. I can send you comparative/poetry/Othello essays if you need help on form.


    1. Lol years later I’m reading this and the advice is still so perfect. I’d love some poetry essay examples as I’m struggling a lot on how to relate and incorporate the poet into my essays, my teacher in 5th year told my I wasn’t “grasping the ideas behind the poetry enough”. I thought I was good at English until I entered 5th year, I constantly fall for the trap of summarising instead of analysing in all of my essays such as comparative, poetry, single text. My short stories don’t have enough depth or development, and on top of all that I didn’t get a spelling and grammar waiver even though I have quite bad dyslexia, it makes me feel like giving up, and is so disheartening when I feel like I have potential but I just can’t grasp the concepts of good writing 🙁 also you can reply directly to my email if you want as I’ll be more likely to see that.

  64. Hi Ollie , im in 6th year currently doing my mocks . I always feel
    Like I have the motivation to study but get stuck along the way. I felt I prepared for my mock, early enough ( near the end of January ) as I already did christmas tests prior to that, but now I ️looks at exam questions and I know nothing . but now I’ve found out what’s coming up in some of my mocks and I find myself just learning off the answers , do you think this is a bad idea or … And is it too late to start studying after the mock , do you have any extra tips on how you study during midterms . Thanks

  65. Hi Ollie, I am currently in 4th year and am already stressing out. I don’t know if you skipped 4th year or not and I also know this year is nearly over but do you think I should begin studying from now and throughout Summer? I already know the subjects I am picking and have the books for them, should I just read through them and try comprehend and understand it or start writing notes? maybe I could study two hours a day depending on my situation?

    Thanks anyway.

  66. Hi Ollie. I just got my mock results back and I got 435 points in total. I’m aiming for 570 this year and I was wondering is it impossible? If not, what would you recommend me to do, what timetable should I follow, how many subjects should I do a day? At the moment, I do my homework and then I spend like 2hours doing a sciencey subject (bio, Chem) and then 2 hrs doing either math or applied math

  67. Hi Farah,

    Sorry for the delay.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say, ‘I always feel like I have the motivation to study but get stuck along the way.’ Do you mean that you are motivated but still don’t work or that you get stuck while studying? If it is the second option, then it sounds like you need to understand material better in class before studying it at home. Make sure you are attentive and ask questions!

    ‘I ️looks at exam questions and I know nothing.’
    You can’t expect to know what exam questions are looking for when you first start to go through them. It’s about trying them, checking them yourself and then learning from your mistakes. If you find one you don’t understand at all, ask a teacher after class.

    ‘now I’ve found out what’s coming up in some of my mocks and I find myself just learning off the answers , do you think this is a bad idea or …’
    Yes, this is hands down a bad idea and I have a feeling you know it is. What do you expect to gain from doing this? The mocks are a check-up and by learning off answers so you do better than you should based on your usual study, you throw that tool out the window and also get an inflated sense of where you are. Use the mocks as a tool and don’t work against them. They are there to help you, whatever level you are at.

    It is absolutely not too late to start studying after the mocks. Get going asap!

    As for mid-term, make a list of everything you want to cover and then make a timetable. I found it easiest to stick to the timetable if I just did everything in the first half of the day and then relaxed in the evening. Do make and stick to a timetable, and make it as relaxed or fixed as works for you.


  68. Hi Samuel,

    There’s no need to stress out – enjoy the rest of TY and really enjoy your summer. You’ll stress out enough from September onwards and frankly trying to learn new material without a teacher will stress you out to no end thinking that you won’t get it when you return to school. I didn’t study for the LC at all before fifth year, but I did study from day 1 in fifth year. 4th year is supposed to teach you to take care of yourself and relax enough so take advantage of it – you won’t get the chance to learn this again (at least not at school).

    Basically it is hugely counter-productive to study now. If you don’t understand the material, you will freak out. if you do understand it, you are unlikely to remember it and also will not have an exam-tailored understanding of it. Writing notes is when you learn the most so it is not a good idea to start so early (day 1 in fifth year is plenty early).

    Genuinely it is so important that you just spend the rest of TY and then the summer developing a more relaxed mindset about the LC.


  69. Hi Moe,

    Not to sound cheesy, but nothing is impossible after the mocks. If anything, now that you know where you stand, 570 is more achievable because you know where you’re working from. The mocks are a check-up, not a final diagnosis and there is very little organised, strategic and (sorry) intense study won’t achieve between now and June. There is no point giving up now that you have this extra tool to help you along the way.

    Frankly, your timetable will be personal to you. It will depend on what you have been doing so far, what amount of study you can consistently do to a high standard without exhausting yourself, and how long you can study one subject for without losing focus. Ask yourself about this and you should be able to draw up a timetable. I liked to do 2-3 subjects a day including one ‘small’ area (e.g. 45 minutes of oral prep or a science experiment with exam questions). I also liked to start with a subject I liked. Again, it really is whatever works best for you.

    Some people like to do 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break, some people do the POKER power hour – it is personal. I’m sorry I can’t be more detailed but the more details I give you the less the routine will work for you given my lack of context.

    Also, use your mock PAPERS (not just the overall results) to design your study timetable. If you fell down on the experiments, make sure they are included. The same goes for oral work, dramas, ecology, etc. It sounds like you are neglecting some subjects.

    Feel free to send in some more specific questions based on your personal situation.

    4 hours a day is plenty of study as long as you are doing continuous revision (i.e. constantly refreshing the material you have already studied) and your study is structured and strategic.
    If you are studying a science subject for 2 hours every day, make at least 1 of those hours (and ideally 1.5-2 hours) exam questions – both doing and correcting them. Exam technique really brings up people who already understand the material.


  70. Hi Ollie,

    Once again congrats on the great result! I’m in Leaving Cert myself and I’m trying to really step up the gears before the big day. I have finally got the motivational side of things sorted and I have my mocks finished, which thankfully went slightly better than expected. Saying that I’m still a long way off where I need to be, at about 60% effort whereas I need to at 100% if I’m hoping to get the results I want.
    The year started very poorly (study wise). After Christmas I started to turn things around, but I’m still a long way off. I’m doing 8 subjects, one of which (french) Is pass and I’m also doing Applied Maths. I have a natural aptitude for most subjects and I have generally perform well in tests. However, saying that, the Leaving Cert is a a big step up and I know I can’t wing my way through it like I usually do. This is in 2 parts as I won’t let me post it all together!

  71. (Joe here again!) I’m confident that if I really increase my study intensity and stick to the philosophy of doing the paper after paper, I can get the results I want. That being said It’s easier said than done and I know if I can’t tip the balance right now I will be severely under-prepared for June. I know its late in the year with only three months left to go, but I’m hoping that advice from an expert can give me the boost I need!!
    I have a question regarding your technique on studying before you started your homework. Can you explain how that works, and why It’s better than the traditional routine of homework first and study later? My homework normally takes 2-2.5 hrs as my Maths and Economics teachers love to load us down with question!
    Second of all you mention generally studying about 4/4.5 hours a day. How did you set out your timetable, as in what timing did you feel worked the best for you and why? I can never seem to stick to a timetable because I never seem to time study periods right and end up dropping it

  72. Hi Ollie, thanks for your reply. Just a few quick questions about the Sraith Pictiurs. How many sentences should you say about each pictiur. Would 3 be enough for 10 pictures (3 x 10) Did you learn them off by heart? And was your level of Irish quite basic with a few nice phrases?

  73. Hi Ollie, your replies have been so helpful, so i’m hoping you could help me!
    In these last (4) weeks since the mocks.. i’ve hit the worst study funk of the year. I’m constantly exhausted, stressing and frankly not doing enough! I got 515 in the mocks, but i happened to get B’s in subjects i thought i would do better in, and only 1 a1! i feel at breaking point to be honest with you, the determination to study is gone and i just feel lazy and disgusted at myself for not doing it! I can’t help feeling like the day will come where i’m in the exam and i won’t know any answers and i won’t get my course!! I’m so jealous of friends not doing the Lc and my oral exams (irish and french) are enough to make me cry at the minute.. my strong points ( irish, history, english and business) don’t even seem so strong anymore and my weaker points (bio, french maths) are just.. i realise this isn’t really a question but just how did you deal with this stress? i feel as if i’ve exhausted my close friends talking about it!

  74. Hi Ollie, My heart is set on medicine. Unfortunately I 110% blew my hpat two weeks ago so INCREDIBLY high leaving cert points are now absolutely vital. But I find that the more I need to do well, the lower my motivation and higher my stress levels 🙁 Any tips for fixing this endless circle of procrastination? Thanks

  75. Hi Ollie,

    Congratulations on your results. I am pretty sure you are very proud of that. 😀

    I am 6th year now doing my Leaving Cert this June. I failed my mock exam; Chemistry, Geography, and Physics. I want to get 500 or 510 points. I have 5 Higher; Maths, Chemistry, Geography, Physics and DCG and 1 Ordinary; English. I do not really study. I only study if there is exams. My plan is to get A’s in Chemistry, Physics, DCG, and Maths. The rest in Geography like B3 and LCVP Distinction. Do you think I could get that points in just three months? What are your advise? My first language is not English but I do not mind that. Please give me some advises. Thank you 😀 🙂

  76. Hi Joe,

    First off you seem to have a good understanding of where you stand and what you want so well done on a good start.

    I am going to be frank here. Homework won’t take you 2.5 hours if you do it after study. Of course I don’t know you/your situation but 99% of the time students spend longer than needed on homework to avoid studying, whether that is a conscious effort or not. Just try it out and you will see that when bed/relaxation is waiting for you at the end instead of study, you will work faster.

    Ask yourself how important the homework is. If your homework is something you would otherwise do as study, then do it as you would for study and count it as study. For example, if it’s an exam question, do it without the book, correct it yourself (in coloured pen, it is important that your teacher sees what you think is right and where you were confused) and then mark it. You can incorporate certain types of homework into your timetable if they are genuinely worthwhile. If they are not worth counting as study, why spend so much time on them? Less important homework does not have to be a masterpiece.

    Also, which is more important – study or homework? Study. So which should you tackle first when you are most alert and ready to work? Study.

    A great timetable is as flexible as you need it to be. I set out specific areas of subjects for each day (e.g. Monday was one physics experiment with exam questions, Irish oral, English poetry, and continuous revision) and recommended an amount of time for each. If I needed more time, I took it. If I finished early I gave the time to something else.

    Find a study system that keeps you motivated – the 50-minute hour, teach the subject to an empty room in 40 minutes then do a 20-minute test, POKER power hour, etc.


  77. Keane,

    I learnt as little as possible off for the LC in all subjects, including the sraith pictiúrs. For them, I always focused on learning the language/how to form the sentences myself so that then when I went into the exam I wasn’t relying on my memory. I’d say had around 4-5 sentences per picture but I wasn’t strict about it because I just talked naturally.

    As for level, ‘nice phrases’ like idioms are cliché and just show more learning off. Yes you can include some but it is so much better to spend that time learning to form sentences yourself. The best phrases you can bring in are just small things you can add to every sentence that show indirect speech/variety in structure (e.g. ‘Tá an chuma ar an scéal go…/Is amhlaidh go…/Is cosúil go….’).

    The amount of nouns you actually need is minimal, it’s all about nailing the verbs. Use the highest level of Irish you know to be correct, however basic or complicated that is. Obviously if it is more complex then you will score better because you will simply show that you know the language better (and therefore deserve better marks).


  78. Catriona,

    Did you take a break after the mocks? I hope so but it doesn’t sound like it! You will never do ‘enough’ if you keep thinking like that – trust me, nobody ever does ‘enough’ because they always feel they could have pushed themselves harder. If you are ‘exhausted’ and ‘stressing,’ then frankly whatever you get done is probably doing more damage than good by tiring you out. You need a break. Over Easter I did one week of grinds and then studied very little for the second week of holidays (i.e. just kept up my continuous revision and did a bit for the orals).

    Frankly it sounds like your mocks are a great asset but you’re not using them that way. They are showing you where you thought you were stronger than you are so use that knowledge to your advantage! You still have plenty of time to change any marks you weren’t happy with. As for your ‘only one a1!’ remember that A1s are not the be-all and end-all. 6 B1s are better than 2 A1s and 4 B3s.

    I know it sounds so cheesy but you need a change of mindset. You’ve got to stop being so hard on yourself. You said ‘I just feel lazy and disgusted at myself.’ Why does your study define you so much? If a friend called you lazy and disgusting for not studying, how long would you listen to that friend? Equally you won’t listen to your self-critiquing self that tries to force you to study. Congratulate yourself on what you do and you will feel more motivated to do it. If you study knowing you will only feel lazy regardless of how much you do, why do any at all?

    Give yourself time to relax and just enjoy time with your friends without discussing the LC. Give yourself time dedicated to not studying/thinking about the LC. Go for a walk. Freaking out isn’t going to help you.


  79. Hi Aoife,

    The more pressure you put on yourself the less productive your work will be. Part of you knows this so you then don’t do it because you know it won’t be productive. Try to relax, gain some perspective on the importance of points and just focus on doing your best.

    I know this is vague and cheesy but please write back with more details about how you’re feeling/your timetable if you want more specific advice.


  80. Hi Alexis,

    As far as I can see, your question is if you can get 500/510 in three months. I can’t say yes/no because I don’t know you or your situation. However, you definitely won’t get it if you don’t study more than studying for tests from now on. Get into a regular study routine and stick to it.

    Whatever your situation, if you want to really improve your grades, you will definitely need:
    1. to put in lots of time
    2. learn a lot more information and keep it in the long-term
    3. learn how to write that information for maximum marks (i.e. exam technique)

    Write back for more information on any of these.


  81. Szilvia Nemeth

    Hi Ollie!

    First of all, thank you for your tips, I think they are very useful and motivating. I am a student in sixth year with nine subjects. (English, Maths, German, Biology, Chem, Physics, Applied, Geography and Hungarian.)

    I know that this is a rather unusual question, since you don’t know me but do you think I should do OL English? I new it from the very beginning, that it is not going to be in my best six because my chances of getting an A in it are very….slim (B2 student, B1 at most if I work until I cry blood). First, I thought I will do Higher Level because I am a maximalist and all and I thought, that ”HL,HL,HL..” will look better on my results sheet. Now I am getting nervous about being faced with a wrong essay question and failing the paper so therefore, the LC….but also if I switch to OL now-with only 82 days to go- will I be able to catch up and focus on my other subjects as well?

    Also, I just had my mocks. I absolutely and totally messed it up. Do not get me wrong, I used to be a very good student and I was called a ‘study bug’ for the last ten years of my life. It is just, my motivation levels sunk at the beginning of sixth year and I am trying pick myself up again, ever since. The teachers in my school could not possible succeed in being more demotivating. They say, ”if you got a C in your mocks, you will get a B2 at most in the real deal.” I am trying to ignore them (since I want to get on well) and focus on my studies but it is getting to me. Do you think I still have a chance?

    Applied Maths. Since there aren’t too many people doing it in the country, I am not going to miss my chance of bombarding an A1 student with questions. How did you prepare. I am using the ‘blue book’ , the Folens one, by Oliver Murphy and I am practicing exam questions. Did you look at any websites that you found useful? Do you have any notes with tips for each question, by any chance?
    I am doing:
    -Linear Motion
    -Relative v
    -Connected Particles
    -Circular Motion
    Do you recommend any other questions that you have found easy?

    Also, out of interest, have you decided on your career options?

    I am looking forward to your answers.


  82. Hi Szilvia,

    The funny thing is that when I read your comment I thought ‘Why would she drop? A B2 in any subject is brilliant!’ Then I remembered that I actually had the exact same problem last year! I got around 72% in the English mock having absolutely ‘cried blood’ with work! If you search ‘English’ on this page, you’ll see how I improved the mark (mostly thanks to a brilliant tutor), but in hindsight 72% was actually a great mark anyway. I was approaching English the wrong way and perhaps you are too so it was more a question of lacking technique than effort for me.

    You are in the mindset where only an A is good but remember that a B3 at HL gets more points than an A1 in OL, which you may not get in OL anyway as the paper can be quite different.

    Have you gotten your mock results back? I would set a mark below which you will drop (e.g. below 50%) but honestly I wouldn’t drop unless you were risking failing, which it sounds like you definitely are not. You are nervous about the essay question, but if you practise adapting your ideas to any title you will have nothing to fear. Remember that another paper might not suit you on the day or maybe you feel sick and you will be very glad to have had English! Plus I don’t know where you heard that failing English means you fail the LC – it’s just not true.

    Don’t let your teachers define what you can and can’t achieve in the LC – it is literally all down to you. My sister got a D3 in art in the mocks and an A2 in the real thing. She got a C in English and then an A1 and now studies English. If you use the mocks as they should be used, they will help you reshape your LC – they do not determine how your LC goes on their own. Whether or not you ‘have a chance’ is completely up to how much you work and how you work, but putting so much pressure on yourself isn’t helping. Remember that a B2 is brilliant if it is the best you can do. The same goes for an A1 or a D1 or an E.

    I studied applied maths outside of school in the Institute (once a week). The teacher gave us copies of every exam question and every solution from 1972 onwards, which were a huge asset. I don’t have them anymore (and wouldn’t be allowed to give them out if I did), but the exam papers are the best way to prepare. I think if you go to an Applied Maths revision course there over Easter they will give you most of those sheets (Hilary Dorgan was my teacher) but I’m not sure.

    Even to understand a topic, do the papers. Go for the OL papers and then work your way up. I didn’t find the book useful unless I was really struggling, in which case I went through every question (that’s Oliver Murphy’s blue book). Do as many questions as possible – at least from the last 10 years. Some are impossibly hard but that’s why it’s a great idea to know more than 6 questions. I can hardly remember the course now, but I remember liking statics. It is worth knowing even just the theorems for moments of inertia (look at the marking schemes) because every year they put on a really tough question and if it’s one you were banking on, writing out the theorem will get you 20/50 marks and take you 5 minutes.

    Applied maths is a very personal subject, so practise everything and do whatever clicks most with you. It is worth doing this with the marking schemes to hand so you know how well each is going marks-wise. For example, you can get lots of marks on connected particles without actually finishing the question.

    I want to study creative writing and physics in the USA. I will hear if I have gotten into one of the colleges I applied to tomorrow night! Wish me luck!

    Write back if there’s anything else you want to know. It felt so strange to hear about someone else who wanted to drop English with marks they couldn’t see were no reason to go to OL! Just as a final note, I would only leave HL English if you are really struggling with other subjects and then you would have to decide not to try in English much at all.


  83. Ollie,

    Thank you for your reply, Ollie. Can you give me advice on physics and chemistry? Do i need to go on the books or on the exam papers and write down all the answers every year and learn them. I know that they keep repeating every year so is that a good idea? I am trying to achieve this June A’s on Chemistry and Physics. However, the results on my mocks were not good to see like someone accidentally put a hot sauce on your eyes. Is my English is the main reason for this because my English is on intermediate level or i am just too lazy to study? is there a chance if i study like you said on the above that i can get A’s on the subjects?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Alexis,

      If you want A’s in physics and chemistry it is totally achievable but it will take a lot of work, i.e. it’s not enough to ‘go on the books or on the exam papers’ – it’s got to be both (unless you already understand all the material). Use the books until you more or less understand a topic (papers will refine this further) and then do literally every question on that topic* you have available to you in one go (if you have the energy).

      Grade/correct your answers in one go either that day or the next day while they’re still fresh and make a list of all the things you didn’t know as you go. Also make a list of any phrasing that would have worked better/linked more the the marking scheme. Revise this list of where you could improve regularly and then after a few weeks try the questions again. This might sound like it takes a while. It does, but it is highly effective.

      If you focus during this process, you won’t need to learn off the marking schemes or your answers – the repetition will get them into you. Also, if you see a question that was in another year when doing this, do it again. Yes you’ve already done it but that means it comes up often and it is worth reinforcing.

      By doing the papers you’ll see what material comes up where (e.g. mechanics as Q.6) and if you’re struggling be able to cut out parts of the course/questions (not recommended but doable).

      You are good enough at English to succeed in a science subject. Part of the reason I picked all the sciences was that I didn’t like essay-writing.


  84. Hi Ollie,

    Would you recommend using online or offline platforms when studying for the Leaving Cert exams?

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  85. Hey Ollie,

    Congratulations again on your excellent results, I’m sure you’re probably sick of hearing that by now.

    I recently got my mock results back and I wasn’t too happy with them because I didn’t achieve the points I need for the course I would like to pursue.

    I’m finding Chemistry and Biology difficult because I wasn’t putting much work into both of them. Now that I am do you think it will be possible for me to get at least a B1 or higher in the actual exam in June? I’m willing to put in the hard work.

    I was wondering if you could give me helpful tips on how to study Chemistry and Biology efficiently.

    Thank You


    1. Hi Aisha,

      The great thing about the sciences is that it’s all a question of hard and strategic work, so if you’re willing to work they will reward you.

      Exam technique and understanding are the two most important things for high grades. When you think you understand a topic (I liked pretending to teach), do literally every exam question on that topic in one go (if you can). Then correct them all, making a list of better phrasing and whatever you got wrong. Revise what you didn’t understand well enough but keep correcting even if you’re getting everything wrong – the marking schemes are great to study with.
      Then go back over those lists often and finally do all the questions again a few weeks later.

  86. Ollie
    Firstly congratulations on your results! Really happy for you, thats some milestone. 😊

    I acknowledge this is a much less important issue but could I ask you about the junior cert? Im finding it hard to motivate myself to study and its getting distressing and at this point. Its really frustrating (pardon any arrogance) as I have all the ability but I feel I am not doing myself justice. For example I just finished my pres and only put in a single weeks worth of work and managed results others would love. I guess im asking how to be sure I work consistently to do myself justice. I really want to get my results and know they are a true reflection of my full ability, no excuses attached etc. Any tips or help would be much appreciated! Thnks

    1. Hi Sam,

      The point of the JC, especially for a student like you, is to learn how to study and to see what suits you so you’re ready for the LC. You won’t be able to pull off good marks that fast in the LC so you have to learn long-term study now (ideally).

      Natural ability is a gift, but frankly the only ability that counts long term is the ability to work.
      I’m not sure what precisely you’re struggling with but this is why it is important for you to study now, rather than trying to do yourself justice/get certain grades. In the long run, the JC grades don’t matter (sorry).

  87. Hey Ollie,

    I’m a motivated student, and willing to put in the hours but I’m having trouble deciding how much time I should be spending on subjects!!
    I was just wondering for the Easter Holidays, how much study for Irish and French Orals should be done along with study of all the other subjects? And would you study any Irish poems/prose/essays etc during this time or just focus your Irish study time on Orals?
    I’m thinking of the full week we have when we go back before the two weeks of Orals as well and so I don’t know how much Oral to do now.
    It’s really affecting my study as I can’t concentrate because I keep asking myself should I really be studying this right now.

    If you had any advice from your own experience that would be great. I’d be so grateful and hopefully be able to do my best.

    Thank you


  88. Hey Ollie,

    I’m a motivated student, and willing to put in the hours but I’m having trouble deciding how much time I should be spending on subjects!! I was just wondering for the Easter Holidays, how much study for Irish and French Orals should be done along with study of all the other subjects? And would you study any Irish poems/prose/essays etc. or just focus your Irish study time on Orals?
    I’m thinking of the full week we have when we go back before the two weeks of Orals and don’t want to be spending a full month studying oral with then only a month and a bit to go till all the written exams.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Diane,

      Writing down drafts for what you want to say in your oral and making sure you are using correct grammar will do a lot for your written work so don’t stress out too much about prose/poetry/essays right now. Practise discussing complex topics in your oral that would come up in essays and you’ll make great progress there anyway. They’re not mutually exclusive areas – it’s all one language in the end (or two I suppose).

      You’re wise not to let the orals take over but they can be your focus in your languages. So for example limit your oral work over Easter and when you’re back to 2 hours a day (MAXIMUM), and then work on other subjects. That’s where the balance was for me anyway!
      As always, write back if there’s anything I missed – Ollie

    1. Hi Sam (about the sciences),

      I personally loved the sciences and don’t have a business bone in my body so they were the obvious choice for me. If you find business much easier (as your comment suggests) then it’s probably wise to pick it (so long as you enjoy it somewhat). Business would have been a huge workload for me because it’s not something I find intuitive at all.

      If the sciences are your strength then absolutely go for it. No essays, the same study techniques for all three, hands-on work – I loved doing them!


  89. Hi Ultan,

    The short answer is it depends on how you study, what you study, and what you mean by platforms.

    For example, I would go through a large chunk of work at once so online flashcards worked for me because I could enter the info quickly and then drill drill drill through it with repetitive games. That worked really well for me, but I’m not a kinaesthetic learner so physical flashcards had no advantage for me.

    Also I wasn’t on Facebook so I didn’t get distracted. This was mostly for ‘learning things off’/highly repetitive work.

    For work that involved a lot of thought and concentration, I preferred writing by hand. I did this for exam questions, for example, or when I was making notes in English.

    Almost all of my work in languages went on the computer so that I could edit and revise and not have a mess of sheets in my room, whereas most of my (much more concise, easy to organise) science/maths work went down on paper.

    Experiment with what works best for you for different subjects and different parts of subjects. I always studied with some kind of technology (even if I had a rule against using it) so that I could correct answers/check grammar fora, etc.

    If you want more specific advice, let me know what kind of online platforms you’re looking at and what their hardcopy alternatives would be for you.

  90. Thanks Ollie! The jc is definetly a learning curve so Im going to experiment with the study. Also I love the sciences, no effort required if its of interest! Im probably going to do the subjects as you seeing as you didnt find all three sciences too much work.(accounting outside of school) . Thanks for the swift reply and advice.

  91. Sorry Ollie youll be sick of me at this rate 😅 !! Just wanted to say sorry incase I confused you with my previous comment I thought you did accounting but it was AM. Just wanted to clear that up!

  92. Hi olly I’m in leaving cert and I worked extremely hard in 5th year but ever since September came I seem to be putting off the work load but I wasn’t stressed that the pres came around but I’m feeling the pressure with the past 2weeks of Easter and the first week of Easter I didn’t open a book, I have a pile of books on my table in my room and I wake up every morning with the stress of getting study done but when I do go about it I just get exhausted and ask myself why do I bother studying this? I don’t seem to be looking forward to the last few weeks of school in fear of having to repeat next year and like you said “who does” I just want to take a gap year and clear my head from books, I’m just wondering have I left it too late to know and manage things comfortably for June

    1. Hi Lisa,
      The last few weeks of school will be the worst but that’s a good thing – you’ll be ready to go.
      If you’re tired, ask yourself why. Make sure you get enough sleep and set realistic goals for studying whatever they are (even half an hour a day for example). It sounds like you’re self-defeating before you even sit down so take care of yourself and do what you can. As is you are heading into study with a pessimistic attitude which won’t give you strong study or at least relief from the stress. Even if it’s not a lot of study it’s better than sitting exhausted at your desk for a few hours. For my last few weeks I would not get out of bed until I had slept for 8 hours.
      It’s not too late especially as you worked in 5th year but don’t be afraid to start small and build up from there. People work up to large amounts of study from September so while you’ll need to build up more quickly, don’t start out trying to do several hours.

  93. Hey Ollie congrats on your A1s. I currently am in 6th Year and i am beginning to panic about maths, i kept telling myself that i would do better on the next test, but i just continue to barely pass or the odd time fail. Any tips for me would be amazing.

  94. Ahmed,
    Drill drill drill. Maths is all about practise. If you’re serious about improving your marks it takes drilling through lots of Qs. Textbooks are really useful – if you’re confused about a topic, start doing all the Qs. Over time you’ll recognise which Qs you do/don’t need to do (i.e. do all the ones that seem too hard, and if they are too hard then go back a few). You can always practise OL exam Qs before the HL ones to understand the topic better. Correct them yourself/with a teacher until you understand the solutions. Also, correct your own work so you learn what kinds of attempts get marks.
    If you’re stuck on any particular chapter give me a shout.

  95. Hey Ollie!

    I’m in my last year (the big one) and I’m finding it difficult to revise for all my subjects. I’ve never been a hard working student or greatly motivated however I didn’t realise the extent of all this until I recieved back my LC mock results. I ended up failing Biology, German and Math (ordinary). It was pretty much a slap in the face and made me realise how bad my situation is. It’s not even the fact I find these subjects hard… it’s just my lack of motivation. I like certain areas in Biology such as the chapters in ecology and human systems but chapters covering cells and others, I simply can’t grasp. German I was never great at and would always get Ds but I never expected to fail my German mock. I think the fact my German teacher isn’t the greatest doesn’t help my cause. Maths I was always grand at… but lately the motivation to sit down and do endless sums isn’t there anymore. I guess I’ve gone of rambling again (which my English teacher always accuses me of doing). What I want to know is, how can I pick up in these subjects without dropping down to ordinary and not falling behind in my other subjects in the process? I find it hard to juggle the time. Might I add that I did almost get 290 while failing three subjects… and my goal is between 280-380 but I don’t want to fail any subject and feel very lost and I feel the panic start to seep in… it’s only nine weeks to my actual LC so yeah :L Last November, my dad passed away suddenly and I feel this affected me a lot. I’m not using that as an excuse either as I was never a very studious student but I was never this bad. I feel a bit lost and I guess just need a bit of guidance for my revision.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Focus on getting a good oral in German and your writing will improve. Try a mock oral with a friend every night if your teacher won’t do one with you at lunch. Biology will be much easier when you understand the material, you just have to find what method of learning works best for you. It might be textbooks, (online) flashcards, the repetition of exam questions, videos – anything. Look up topics online and ask plenty of questions in and after class – your teacher is there for you to understand, so keep asking until you do. There are lots of online resources for maths, German and biology so find what works best for you.

      What I found helpful for motivation was to set myself specific tasks, e.g. ‘do all the questions on this topic and correct them.’ Then it wasn’t just ‘study biology’ or something vague that I could half-do and then give up. Set measurable goals and you won’t be so lost for motivation.

      As for time, make a timetable and stick to it. You may be indulging other subjects. Give more time to what you need to improve than what you need to maintain. Remember it’s much better for you to drop a bit in other subjects and pass those three than to fail three and ace the others. If you see your other subjects slipping then adjust your timetable but don’t allow the fear of this to stop you from focusing on the other three.

      I’m sorry to hear about your dad and I hope your family is coping well.


  96. Hey Ollie
    I’m really starting to panic over the LC. I really haven’t been working but I’m trying to cover stuff now even though it’s too late to start it. I failed a few subjects in the mocks and I barely passed the rest. I find it so hard to concentrate in class and when I get home I’m so tired and keep putting off homework and study. I want to get around 300 points but I’m so afraid of not getting my course or possibly failing maths which means I fail the whole LC. The whole thing just makes me so anxious and stressed. There’s a situation going on in my life right now which affects my concentration all the time and always occupies my thoughts and it affects my mood all the time. If the situation is going good I’m happy but I’m still thinking of it all the time and if there’s a tiny slip in the situation I get so down and it’s the one and only thing on my mind and I panic about it so much and over think it but I know I should just let go of the little things that bother me about the situation and move on but I can’t. I just get so wrapped up in it and it makes it so difficult to concentrate in class and at home, worrying about if it’s going to be okay or not. I’m so stressed out about it. Both the situation and the LC and what comes after. Please help.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      “I’m trying to cover stuff now even though it’s too late to start it.”
      Relax. You have plenty of time to study if you use your time efficiently. You won’t know what you can or can’t do until you get started so it is literally never to late to start.

      Make sure you are taking care of yourself if you are so tired. In the last two months it is really important to get enough sleep and only work when you have enough energy. If you are tired, take a nap until you feel ok and then study. Don’t let your time be taken up by activities that don’t help the tiredness – they won’t make you less tired.

      “I’m so afraid of not getting my course or possibly failing maths which means I fail the whole LC.”
      This is a myth. There is no such thing as ‘failing the LC,’ just certain subjects. You can check on the Irish Times exam helpdesk.* As for not getting your course, you can always put a PLC on your CAO form after the exams that will help you get into the course. There are always more options so look into them if this is a big concern.

      You are clearly very stressed. You can talk to someone about this ‘situation.’ If it is affecting your mental health you can contact the Samaritans** if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends/family/guidance counsellor. I had to tell everyone in my family not to argue with me around this time last year because I couldn’t cope with any added stress! The LC is a really hard time and most people will accommodate that. If they won’t you know there is nothing you can do but try to minimise the impact on you.

      My sister gave me the motto, ‘If you can change it, then why worry about it? If you can’t change it, then why worry about it?’ Remember that the LC is a time of extreme emotions and try to keep things in perspective. Talking does help.


  97. Hi Ollie, well done you did superb!! Is there any particular revision books or textbooks for Maths and physics that you would recommend? Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Mary,
      The best revision texts for physics (especially now) are the exam papers and marking schemes. Going through condensed notes won’t teach you what really comes up like the exam papers will. Just keep working through them and correcting them yourself and you’ll see how repetitive the questions get. Any physics textbook is good for practising maths-based questions so if you’re struggling there do all the Qs in that chapter in your schoolbook.

      For maths the papers are useful too but not so much if you’re still trying to get a basic understanding of the material (they are pretty hard). I did an Easter revision course which made sure I understood everything and then tackled the papers from there. Again I think practice is key so if you’re still trying to understand the material work through all the Qs in your book on that chapter (from very easy to very hard) and then go for the papers. You can start with ordinary level if you’re doing HL.

      Hope that’s useful.


  98. Hi Ollie,

    I’ve read through every single comment on this article and it’s answered the vast majority of my questions but I still have a couple more.

    1. I’ve just finished 5th year, and being honest I barely put any effort in and still managed to get good grades. I’ve never really studied for anything before but still got by really. But now, I don’t see how I’m going to be able to learn a full 2 years work in ten months! Am I fighting a losing battle? The course I’m looking at for third level is a really intense course and is looking for a nearly perfect leaving cert. Am I too late already? Is there any way I can even begin to start this? I’ve already started revising Irish cause I’d probably struggle with that the most, but looking back I need to basically revise every subject again completely in the next two months before we go back.

    2. Additionally, my family has booked a holiday the week before my mock exams, and while they think its a good idea to relax me (I’m basically a procrastinator with a fear of failure), I can’t see how this would work out for me!

    3. My boyfriend and a lot of my friends wouldn’t really be interested in joining study groups or attending courses, and a lot don’t understand why I’m already investing so much time in something that seems so far away. I’ve already decided to give up my phone and internet connection from the day we go back, my name is down for after school study and I’ve applied for different crash courses throughout all of our upcoming midterms. If my friends are already complaining about how little I see them, how am I going to strike a balance in a few months? My priorities right now are school and I’m willing to sacrifice one year for my future, but at the same time I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

    Any advice would be so so useful, thanks a mill!

  99. hi Ollie please how did you study for English and French because I really have no clue on what to write

  100. hi olle 🙂
    i was just wondering if u still have ur notes from the subjects you have mentioned or even if you have tips for doing chemistry?(higher level) maths (higher lvel) as i am struggling abit on taking down notes for chemistry. ( i cant summarize the content well) if so would you be able to email me?
    ([email protected]) thanks alot
    waiting for your reply.

  101. Hie Ollie am a student from South Africa just came a month ago in europe am am going to be starting in 5th year i have no idea what thy learn about
    I dont even know where to begin

    Plz kindly help


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