This is it!

June 9th. The day Michael J Fox & Johnny Depp were born. Also the day Charles Dickens died. Assuming you make it through to tomorrow, it’ll also go down in history as the day your leaving cert started…

English Paper 1 is in many ways a nice paper to start with. No real studying required, just good writing. However you need to write well, you need to be creative and focus on nailing the questions right through their hearts. That’s easier said than done of course…

9.30am is an early start… no doubt it will seem even earlier after what will probably be one of your worst nights of sleep ever tonight. But do sleep, do try to sleep, keep doing what you normally do… don’t let the leaving cert knock you off balance and disrupt your thought process. It’s natural to be shaking like a leaf tomorrow morning or not being able to focus or take in what anyone else is saying… tell yourself it’s natural.

Thai Anxiety Part I
photo credit: David No

There’s a hell of a lot of pressure on you. More pressure on you than previous years… certainly more pressure now than back in your parents days. There will always be geniuses around you, there will always be people that get up and leave after half an hour… it’s important not to worry about them. You come first. You matter more.

People will try to give you last minute words of wisdom and tips… the ‘good lucks’ will be flooding in. Politely ignore them though, they’ll only serve as a distraction and add additional pressure. Tomorrow morning you should be 100% focused on the job in hand which is English Paper 1. Don’t let anything or anyone distract you, you need to be bullish and narrow minded and if that means freezing people out for a few hours, so be it.

After that first paper, it gets easier. The exam papers themselves don’t, but the whole process just becomes routine. Going in to the exam center, waiting for papers, signing your name, the atmosphere, the people…. it becomes a temporary home and that’s what you want. It’s important to get as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible. You can then focus 100% on answering questions.

And don’t forget that the whole point of these exams is to see how well you can answer questions. That’s what it boils down to.  Fail, get an A1 or don’t show up at all and time will still move forward… remember that. No matter how poor or well you do, life goes on. This is just a stepping stone.

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