Billy Ryle: Advice In Final Week Of Preparations For State Exams

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With just a week to go until the 2019 Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams, Career Guidance Counsellor, Billy Ryle, offers some last minute advice on how to prepare…

Exam Time

The waiting is almost over for about 120,000 exam candidates as the State Exams get underway on Wednesday next, 5th June.

This is the final weekend for major revision. Stick to your study plan on Saturday and Sunday. Concentrate on subjects being examined during the first week.

As the exams run into the second and subsequent weeks, the optional subjects are nicely spaced out allowing for study days.

Continued below…



Your best asset going into the exam is a clear and alert mind. Your mental and physical energy needs to be at a high level over the next few weeks.

On the evening before each paper, spend an hour or so looking over your notes, so that the important concepts and ideas are fresh in your mind.

Heavy study sessions on the eve of an exam are not advisable. Instead, take a few hours of light leisure, relax in a warm bath or shower and get a good night’s sleep.


Give serious thought to your answering strategy and adopt a planned approach to answering the question papers. Write your answers between the margins and work your way down the page in a neat and orderly manner. Write clearly and legibly. Keep your answers well spread out for easy reading. There will be plenty supplementary answer books available in the exam centre.


Number each question and sub-question clearly in the left-hand margin. Don’t split questions by answering a part of a question on one page and the other part further on.

If you are unable to completely answer a question leave a page blank to which you can return later. In fact, it’s a good idea to leave about a half page blank at the end of each question.

This will allow you to add more information to a question if you wish to do so later in the exam. Use diagrams, sketches and illustrations, as appropriate, to enhance your answer.


A well-presented script makes a favourable impression on the corrector but the core of any exam is the quality of your answering. Keep your answer relevant to the question asked. Address the topics on the question paper.

Read each question very carefully before deciding which ones to answer. You may prefer to tackle a good question first to settle you down.

Before answering a question list the key points around which you will build your answer. Be concise, accurate and relevant. Don’t be long-winded or repetitive.


Be familiar in advance with the format of each paper. Know how the paper is presented. What topics are examined? How many questions must be answered?

What styles of question can you expect on any exam paper? Know what choice is available on the paper. Is one or more question compulsory or is there an unrestricted choice available to you?

Be particularly careful about a paper, which is subdivided into subsections. Without prior logistical knowledge of such a paper you could fail to address the required number of questions.


In order to do well in the exam you must present your answers within the time allowed. Go into the exam determined to answer the required number of questions. Be aware of the marking scheme for each paper and work out in advance the approximate time you can afford to spend on each question


Spend about five minutes reading the entire exam paper when it’s handed to you. This preliminary scrutiny of all the questions allows you to settle down and gather your thoughts.

Keep to your pre-prepared answering plan and start with a question you can answer well. When you have finished each question, reread it to ensure you haven’t omitted any part.

If you finish a paper before the allotted time has elapsed, do not leave the exam centre. Read back over your answers in case you’ve missed anything.


Once an exam is over, spend as little time as possible on a post-mortem. The matter is now out of your hands.

Focus on the next subject and when the entire exam is over, forget about it and enjoy the summer. Leaving Certificate Exam results will be issued on Tuesday, 13th August and CAO First Round Offers will be available on Thursday,15th August.


Over the next few days check your equipment and assemble your exam materials – biros, pencils, ruler, eraser, drawing instruments, calculator and so on. Have at least two biros in case one doesn’t work properly. Organise your personal needs such as a watch and tissues. Good luck to all candidates doing the State Exams.


• Your best asset going into an exam is a clear and alert mind
• Heavy study sessions on the eve of an exam are not advisable
• Eat well during the exams when you’ll need lots of energy
• Keep fluid levels high to avoid dehydration
• Take regular aerobic exercise during the exam period
• A planned approach to answering leads to success
• A well-presented script makes a favourable impression
• Number your questions clearly and write neatly and legibly
• Leave some blank space at the end of each question
• Read the entire paper before deciding which questions to answer
• Keep your answers concise, accurate and relevant
• Be familiar, well in advance, with the logistics of each exam paper
• Be careful with a paper which is subdivided into subsections
• The time spent on a question must be proportionate to the marks for the question
• Proper allocation of time will enable you to answer the required number of questions
• Reread the question when you have answered it to ensure you haven’t omitted a part
• Do not leave the exam centre before the end of the exam
• Once an exam is over, avoid protracted post-mortems
• Arrange the equipment and materials you will need for the exams
• Organise your personal needs such as a watch and tissues
• The Leaving Cert exam has two extra days this year
• Exam timetables are available on
• Good luck to everybody doing the State Exams

• Billy Ryle is a Career Guidance Counsellor and freelance writer

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