University student Niamh Shields shares her top tips for keeping a cool head during the Leaving Cert.

Hi All,

Ah, the Leaving Certificate year, I still get cold sweats from thinking about the year itself.

College Corner columnist Niamh Shields

It’s crazy to believe it has been two years since I tackled it.

I genuinely do feel for those studying the Leaving Certificate, it’s a tough year but let me assure you, it will get easier. I’ve decided to dedicate this post to Leaving Certs student and their parents.

Here are some tips to help relax and stay extra calm throughout the year.

Remember, ‘You’ve got this!’


1. Timetables:

Timetables during Leaving Cert year will become your best friend. Organisation is so important to have throughout the year. Always aim to have roughly about 3 subjects a night and ALWAYS include study breaks.

Study breaks are essential, take time to give that brain a rest, otherwise you will be sleep talking biology equations and freaking out your parents and siblings *sorry family*!


2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others:

School can sometimes be a nightmare filled with others telling you how much they ‘supposedly’ studied, my advice don’t listen to them.

It can be a very overwhelming space being in your peer group and especially being influenced by others, you can easily fall into the ‘I should be doing what others are doing trap.’

Everyone is different, unique and filled with various capabilities. If you feel somewhat stressed about the conversation topic tell your besties about it and ask can you talk about something else, a majority of the time your friends will be feeling the exact same too. Just focus on yourself and nobody else.


3. Ask Teachers:

Biology and Math were my enemies during the Leaving Cert, they didn’t like me and I didn’t like them. I was always somewhat embarrassed and overwhelmed in class never understanding a thing and coming out of class running to the toilets in tears. Until I did something about it, I asked Ms Stoddart and Ms Morrow if they could help me in their free time which they were more than happy to do. Hello B1s!

Teachers don’t mind helping you at all, they would rather you ask for help rather than sitting there in silence. Remember they were Leaving Cert students too!


4. Let out the emotions and Speak –

As I said and can’t stress enough the Leaving Cert is such an overwhelming experience. It can be very easy to bottle things up but this shouldn’t be the case. I would highly recommend speaking to a loved one whenever you feel the tiniest bit stressed and you will feel tons times better.

A problem shared is a problem halved.


5. Have a half day on a Sunday:

Every human needs a TLC time and I always find Sundays to me mine. Studying for the Leaving Cert is crucial – yes this is true, however we all need time to unwind from the studying and have some time to rest the brain. I would study from 9-1 on Sundays and then relax for the whole day and even though yes there was times I wanted to run back and chain myself back to my desk, I wouldn’t.

Being overworked does nothing good for you, only leaves you feeling frazzled and stressed, two things that affect your performance. Always look after yourself.

Although you may feel like this year is going to be the end of world, trust me it isn’t.

The Leaving Cert can be somewhat fun too, filled with many 18ths, prom, musicals, prefects, student council, mass night, so many fun things ahead so don’t dwell on just the exams because blink and your whole year will be over.

The Leaving Cert is a tough year, but it’s also the fastest year of your life.

If you have any questions regarding anything whether you be a stressed student or a panicked parent – feel free to drop me an email at

Take Care Always,

Until Next Time,