Rolling Around Again

tearing hair outAs we approach the end of April, the Leaving Cert 2013 approaches. I can imagine many of you are currently hiding in a corner of your bedroom, books firmly locked away, with a blanket over your head and a torch, thinking “oh my God no, this isn’t happening.” Well maybe you’re not that dramatic, but either way, you’re probably feeling quite nervous now about the whole thing. I know how you feel. This time last year I was completely terrified because it seemed that there was so much I hadn’t studied, and there was so little time to study it.

Have no fear, Leaving Certs. Remember that everything you’ve done up until this point will count in the exam. Even the homework you did last night could help on the day. Even going into school yesterday could help your grade. You never know how it’ll pan out. So if you haven’t done any studying yet, and are now terrified of failure, or you’ve done a lot but feel that there’s so much more to do, then take a deep breath. Remember it’s only an exam, and is not that important. Here are some tips for the last few weeks of studying.

  1. Forget the internet: Probably not great advice, coming from somebody who blogs, but it really will help you a lot. While it’s important for you to feel connected to your friends and family at the moment, you need to remember that going on the internet when you should be studying will only make things harder in the long run. When I did my exams, I got my parents to hide my laptop charger so I couldn’t use it. It worked pretty well. While I still procrastinated, inevitably, it stopped me spending hours perusing the depths of Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Use your notes: If you’re still spending time sifting through massive text books then it’s time to give it a rest. Text books are great, of course, but the truth is that they give way too much information on the key areas, and even more on areas that don’t matter at all. Now might be the time to invest in Less Stress More Success or Revise Wise books. Use these to make key notes, which you can keep in folders. Reading over these key notes every day or two between now and the exams will help you tremendously. Also, take out your copies and read through the notes your teachers gave you. Your teachers may be annoying the hell out of you right now, but they do have degrees in their areas (most of them, at least). Trust their notes, as they probably know what they’re talking about.
  3. Limit late nights and alcohol: While you’re probably used to getting the weekend and going a little bit wild, as they say, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to limit this a little bit coming up to the exams. Alcohol makes you feel lethargic, and a hangover will only encourage you to spend all day lying in bed and eating chocolate and crying about your impending doom. Late nights too will just make you sleep in all day and not get anything important done. When you’re spending Saturday evenings in bed while your friends are out partying, just think of the elusive college parties you’ll go to next September when you do well in your exams.
  4. Have a study space: You may have been avoiding having a set place where you study every day all year, but now is the time to sort this out. Having a set study space will really help you to get your head in order. You can stick notes up all over the walls and sit at a desk chanting Irish phrases into the night if you have to. Remember that an organised space equals an organised head… I sound like my mother…
  5. Relax: Don’t study really late into the night. It won’t help anybody, and will just leave you feeling exhausted and annoyed because you not only don’t have any sleep, you also don’t have any personal time. Put a time limit on when you’re going to finish studying and stick to it, even if it’s going really well. Try to finish by ten, but definitely by eleven. Give yourself some time to unwind before going to sleep or you’ll just have some demented dream about a copybook flying at your head from above.

Best of luck with the exams, Leaving Certs of 2013, and best of luck with the studying.

PS: If there are any Leaving Cert students of this year who would like to write a guest blog about their experiences, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll get back to you. You’d be surprised, but writing about the exams and your studying process can actually help get your head in order and think critically about your study methods.

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Choices

Thitwo-roads-diverged1s blog originally appeared at http://www.SirPatrickofIreland.wordpress.com

Choices creep up on you at the most inconsiderate times. You’ll often be sleeping, when they’ll grasp you and tear you from your slumber; or perhaps you’re at work, tapping your pen off the desk, questioning what you’re all about. But either way, choices will haunt you at some point in your life.

Choices are completely terrifying for being precisely what they are. They involve the conscious decision to eliminate various paths in life. They involve choosing one path, when, let’s be honest, you have no idea whatsoever which path is the right one.

Choices have terrified me in this selfish little way of theirs. They alert you to your impending doom at some point. It’s nagging – this nagging little creature tugging at a fragile part of your mind. And you know, in that moment, that you are going to give up so much. You are going to follow a path. How do you ever know which one to choose?

I remember this time last year, being torn in the shortening nights as my thoughts ran away with all of my potential futures. I was at school, rapidly approaching my final exams which would, in many respects, determine which road would be travelled. There was this haunting awareness in me, one particular night, that something I was not ready for was going to hit me. It could hurt me; potentially, it could polish the final cobblestone in my path. But then again, it could also see my whole road repossessed for failure to pay back the loan.

I had to choose a college course. Simple enough – it involved walking blindly into a university where I would study a course I really had no idea whether I would like or not.

As you can imagine, I was confused. I could choose to follow my gut instinct – to study English and History – or my logic, which told me to study Journalism. Undoubtedly both would leave me jobless in a country that has left me and my generation behind – yet I still had to make that choice. I had to just go for one; just decide which one was less stupid, really.

At the end of the day, every choice falls down to the simple question of what you place more trust in: your gut instinct or your logic. Both are undoubtedly important, but ironically, in this too, you must make a choice, and decide which you will mute, and which you will hear.

Try not to fear choices. Remain content that you can never follow more than one path in life. Keep remembering your reasons for loving your choice; remember that even if it was a bad choice, it is still important for your life journey, and your personal human experience.  Robert Frost spoke of The Road Not Taken. He, like most people, wondered what a different future he could have had by making a different decision. It is impossible not to wonder about the other road; however you need to always remember that your road was right for you at that moment in time, and you should always be glad that you took it for that reason alone.