1. Ask yourself what it is all for?
What are you really after? What tangible real thing will a good Leaving Cert allow you to get? Is it moving out of your home town and going to a college you really like? Is it financial independence, or a starting step to it? Is it the beginning of an academic career or your own business?
2. What are you doing?
There is a girl who wants the same course as you somewhere in this country. Only one of you will get the course. She's studying. What are you doing?... It may sound horrible, but it's the nature of competition. There are x people competing, but fewer than x will get it.
3. Don't waste your energy
You don't need a clean study space, all of your books, highlighters, a list of goals and your favourite study hoodie. You just need to work. Work on the right things. Work on past papers and use the highest quality material you can find.
4. Reward, don't punish
Make a deal with yourself: study a particular thing, then do something you like: check Instagram, make a cup of tea, play with your dog, stare into space, whatever. It's like high intensity interval training - 20 minutes on, x minutes off, only you get to fully relax in-between.
5. Pick the thinnest slice
Can't hack it today? Just pick the smallest thing you can do today. It could be a part (a) of a past question in one subject. It's all about momentum, so once you have that small win of a job well done, no matter how tiny - you will see things that little bit differently. [In case you've heard conflicting advice, in general, it is best to start with the hardest thing. It's generally also the thing you will want to avoid the most. It's the thing that will make the most difference. However, if you're reading this, you're probably hanging on by a thread as is, so no need for heroism right now. Some days are thinnest slice days.]
6. One thing at a time
If you are torn apart by the feeling that there are 1001 things to do and you're not sure if this is worth doing, just let go of it. One thing to study. Nowhere else to go, nothing else to think about. Just immerse yourself in this one subject for the 20 minutes in a relevant way. 99% of the time that means doing past papers and using your books/notes when you need to.
7. Stay in control
Countless studies on motivation show that it is highly related to the extent you feel you're in control. If you feel in control - you will feel motivated. While the Leaving Cert is far from an ideal system, at least, we are all in the same boat. Unlike in countless other places, there won't be anyone getting into college because their father knows someone or a plain bribe. Don't let this fact go to waste. Things aren't perfect, but you do have phenomenal opportunities laid out in front of you and there is a lot you can do to accomplish them.
8. Others did it, you can do it too
Thousands of other people came before you and got though the system just fine. The numbers are on your side here. Yes, there are definitely a lot of sad stories of people missing their course by 10 points. It is sickening, and you should do everything you can to avoid it, but the sad stories are overwhelmingly outweighed by the happy ones.
9. You're not alone
It is easy to get caught up in the feeling that everyone else around you is getting on great and doing so effortlessly. Having been chatting to our audience on Snapchat (six25points), we know it isn't so - and that certainly wasn't so for the top Leaving Cert performers writing this.