The Importance of Your Friends, Exercise and Trusting the Exam System

Being successful in any new routine will be determined by how positive your current outlook is. Positivity also fosters better mental health. In order to maintain that positivity, keep in touch with friends via WhatsApp and the usual social media platforms. Maintaining contact with friends is vital, as you will understandably miss the lack of face-to-face interaction with them. A conversation with mates will help you forget about current issues and give you renewed energy. Always try and be positive in these conversations in order to lift up and motivate each other.

While at home during this difficult time, I am going to advocate using all social channels available to communicate with your friends (safely obviously). You will spend most of your time studying alone, so social time on facetime or calls during the day with your peers and friends from school is important. Learn how to achieve a balance of phone use and leaving it outside your study area.

For exam students, you need to trust the fact that we have one of the most robust and fairest exam systems in the world. The exam papers are always marked fairly each year, no matter what the circumstances. It is currently a very transparent system, so please trust it. Focus on your own work and what you can control. The State Exams Commission (SEC) are hyper aware of the importance of student’s mental health right now and this has been reflected by the extra choice and options on this year’s exam papers.

Maintain some form of exercise. I find that a short walk can allow ideas and thoughts on subjects to sink in. I’m not sure why?, but it works. Try not to stay in bed past ten a.m. in the morning and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables in order to build the key vitamins. While preparing for exams at home, retain as many of your school routine habits as you can.

Notice each day how you are feeling. In relation to emotions, its often the case that when you ‘name them’, you ‘tame them’. This awareness will help you be more in tune with your body and deal with any ‘down time’ should it arrive. Apparently, doing a quick five minute tidy of your space or bedroom increases positive feelings and emotions. Try it and see! If you do find yourself down in the dumps, be sure to talk to someone; anyone at all.

Staying Positive, Keeping a Diary and Things Change Quickly

It is important to try and focus on one task at a time and not look too far ahead during times of stress. It is perfectly ok to be worried or anxious about uncertain situations and you should acknowledge the existence of these feelings. Try to find someone to talk to about stress or worry you may have. It can be a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, a sibling, a teacher, a relation, or a parent. Somehow when you talk through whats worrying you, it often becomes more manageable. Listening to negative rumours on social media or from friends can do more damage than good. This is particularly important around exam time. Premier league footballers don’t read negative press about themselves as they diligently prepare for their next game. They have been coached not to. Sticking to the exact facts will help you greatly face up to the reality of the situation you must deal with, whether that be in life or exams.

I always found keeping a diary useful in managing my worries and anxieties and would encourage you to write your own thoughts into a Journal; even just a list of uncertainties that may be playing on your mind currently. Try to remember that being overly anxious can prevent you from doing your best in exams. Learn and practice some calming techniques.  Seek help from a professional if you feel it is all too much. Reach out.

Varying what we do each day keeps our brain active and will allow less time for anxiety to creep in. As human beings, our minds often bring us to worst-case scenarios. We learn from experience that these rarely come to pass. Fear can often be a false emotion. Cast your mind back to good times you had recently; things weren’t really that amazing then, were they? Now remember a point in your life when you struggled; things quickly changed some days later and it didn’t seem as horrible as you expected in the end, did it?

“Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.“

Guns N’ Roses

Always focus on what you can control and all the good people in your life. Stay positive, connected with friends and deal with the exact reality of situations. You will discover you are more resilient and stronger than you think. Doing your fair share of revision each day and ticking off that task list you create (the night before) will reduce anxiety levels. Try my ‘ACE stability measures’ below to help you sustain confidence and manage anxiety.

 ACE Recommended Stability Measures

  1. Tick off each topic in subjects as you complete them.
  2. Focus on what you have completed (not what’s not) each day.
  3. Think positively about yourself.
  4. Plan something nice or enjoyable each day.
  5. Take things day by day.
  6. Set yourself little targets and subject challenges each day.
  7. Always remember that ‘You are enough’.

To view last weeks column on how to be ‘Exam Prepared from Home’, click here.


More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English) Classes for Junior (2022) and Leaving Certificate (2021) Students, ACE Maths Assessments, and his Award winning ACE Maths Solution Books can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

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