Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.59 13 Jun 2021


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The Leaving Certificate got under way on Wednesday, with thousands of students facing into another week of exams from tomorrow.

More than 5,000 exam centres have been set up across the state to ensure that social distancing is maintained through the 2021 exams.

There is an option for sixth years to take calculated grades or to attend the written exams.

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Students are no doubt cramming the last bit of study they can this weekend, with stress levels remaining high.

Maeve Dwan O'Reilly, a trained teacher, IRC scholar and PhD candidate at UCD and Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, offered some tips for students facing into another tough week.

She told Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh on Newstalk Breakfast Weekends that stress is normal, and there are manageable ways to ensure young people don't let it take over during studying and exams.

"Stress is a totally normal reaction to the exam, to the Leaving Cert, and also, a little bit of stress can also be helpful it's when you don't get a break from the stress or when you have too much stress, you can become overwhelmed," she said.

File photo of students sitting the Leaving Cert. Credit: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

She provided some helpful advice for students who may be feeling overwhelmed at the moment.

"There's a couple of things people can do if they're feeling overwhelmed, breathing exercises, grounding is really helpful," Ms Dwan O'Reilly said.

"So if you're in an exam, and you start to get a bit panicked, focus on your senses, what can you see in the exam hall, what can you hear, just taking a moment out of the exam to think about what's around you and not the exam itself."

She added that there are lots of things someone can do if they're feeling overwhelmed when studying.

Study advice

"Breaking down the material into manageable chunks of information - so the Irish exam is coming up tomorrow, you don't need to learn the entire Irish language in one half hour," Ms Dwan O'Reilly advised.

"You need to break it down into really small chunks that you can manage, saying, 'Right, I need to take out the handout the teacher gave me, I need to read through it and see what's on it'.

"It's also really important to take breaks, people can get overwhelmed when they're stressed, but also if you're stressed and say, 'I can sleep when it's over', that's not going to work, you need to take breaks, take a step away from the Leaving Cert, do the things that you love doing before the Leaving Cert and you'll continue doing after.

"Go for a walk, talk to your friends, listen to music, read a book, you need to take a mental break from the exams.

"Pace your studying, you can't go from exams to study, to exams to study. It's not sustainable."

As for the 'dos and don'ts', Ms Dwan O'Reilly added: "So for young people, take a break, get lots of sleep, drink lots of water and enjoy that Leaving Cert weather that we're having.

"Avoid caffeine, avoid sugar, because they'll give you that high and that push but you'll crash after, so eating healthily is really important."

Leaving Cert making you stressed? Here's some advice on how to manage it

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Main image: File photo. Credit: thecybercafe90 from Pixabay 

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