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My daughter suffers from exam anxiety. How will she cope during the Leaving Cert?


My daughter was very anxious both before and during her mock exams in the last week or so. She is convinced it is making her perform poorly. The fact that she missed over a month of schooling due to illness in fifth year hasn’t helped. I really do worry how she will cope in the Leaving Cert in June. Can you help?

I know many parents and students are anxious regarding the Leaving Certificate exams this summer, especially given that the Junior Cert did not take place in 2021 due to Covid, and the mocks are the first opportunity these students have had to sit something approximating a full set of exam papers across all seven subjects of their Leaving Cert.

The only true benefit of sitting the mocks, which entails the loss of at least a week of tuition time, is the experience of having a dry run through the entirety of what this year’s cohort of students are going to experience in June.

The simple process of familiarising yourself with exam papers and the setting can help ease anxiety.

If the mock exam results are disappointing, I would advise her not to get too discouraged. In many ways the more mistakes a student makes the better it is for their chances of learning from the experience and getting it right in June. The results of the mocks are in one sense largely irrelevant in that they count for nothing in terms of progression into life after second-level education.

Soon, your daughter and the 60,000 other candidates will be undertaking the language orals in the calm of the Easter break, when all other school activity will be absent from school.

My advice to students facing into the mocks has always been as follows: after each exam sit down and write out in detail the thoughts that occurred to you under the stress of exam conditions. What were the topics or questions you felt needed more work? Were there gaps in your knowledge or understanding of sections of the curriculum?

These simple written reflections will provide the roadmap for study plans for the next four months – and will, hopefully, ease some anxiety.

When a student gets the scripts back from their school, carefully read any comments or observations written by the person who corrected the script. They may provide invaluable guidance on how to improve for June.

If results are poor, I advise against dropping from higher to ordinary level in a subject, unless specifically advised to do so by a subject teacher.

The key is not to panic: she will feel in a very different place by the end of June.

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