The Leaving Cert has just begun, and Donegal Youth Service want to lower stress levels around the county and offer some tips.  We want you to know that whatever happens there are lots of options available to you.  Even if you mix up your algebra with your aurals.

First things first you have to take care of yourself.  Yes the Leaving Cert is a big deal, and you have been working towards this for years, but you must remember to eat, sleep, and take breaks among other things.  Maybe even get out and enjoy some of the ‘Leaving Cert weather’ that everyone else is looking forward to in between studying and exams.  And remember if you don’t get the results you wanted it’s certainly not the end of the world.

Leaving Cert Survival Guide

1.    Eat good food.  No, not fast food.  GOOD food.  Your brain needs it.  You might not be studying on a treadmill, but your brain burns calories too so make sure you are giving it good fuel.  Try some nuts, fish, and blueberries.  Remember to stay hydrated too!  There will be plenty of time for treats when it’s all finished.

2.    Stretch.  Surely you have all heard stories of epic hand cramps after the written English exam.  Did you know that the English paper 1 and paper 2 used to be on the same day?  Spare a thought for those who came before you.  And maybe try some yoga.

3.   Take regular breaks.  We know you hear this one all the time, but don’t overlook its importance.  Your brain needs a break too.  So get up, and get away from your books and get some fresh air.  Do something that you enjoy.

4.  Breathe.  You might be thinking this one is obvious, and you don’t need to remember to breathe as it’s automatic.  But we mean breathe deeply.  If you are feeling stressed or anxious about your exams take 5 minutes, close your eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths. 

5.  Organise your study space.  Keep it as clear as possible, and only have the books and notes you need open.  Still getting distracted by other things in your room?  Build a blanket fort around your study area and then get back to work.

6.  Study with friends.  Talking about the subjects is a great way to revise, and you can answer eachother’s questions.  Otherwise talking into a mirror and explaining something is good too.  Explaining something verbally helps you grasp it better yourself. 

7.  Get a good night’s sleep!  In times of stress that is often easier said than done, but there are some ways to make it more likely.  Turn off your phone, TV, and any other electronics in your bedroom.  Try some meditation and breathing.  And even if you don’t fall asleep at least you are resting.

8.  Eat a good breakfast each day, read the whole paper (make sure to check the back page!) before you start writing and then write what you can.  Read it twice if you need to and make sure you understand the instructions.  You can do it! 

9.  It’s all over.  Now you can treat yourself – you survived the Leaving Cert!  Phew!

10.  Remember your potential is not defined by your Leaving Cert results.  Enjoy the summer and don’t spend it worrying about how you did.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed you can call in to us for one to one support, information about your options, CAO support, or a place to relax, take a break and have some tea.  A ping pong tournament could be the perfect break, what do you think?  We are here for you in whatever way you need us.

Contact Donegal Youth Service on (074) 91 29630, e-mail, visit, or call in to us at 16-18 Port Road, Letterkenny.  We are also on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.  Donegal Youth Service are a registered charity.  Charity No.  CHY 15027.

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