Welcome to 6th year – the year of school that really matters (if your teachers haven’t already told you). This time it is not like going into 5th year (if you are read our advice for 5th years) you know what is going on, you are now the 6th years you were scared of when you were in 1st year – it has all come full circle. Just because you are the “big guys” doesn’t mean you know everything. You still need to sit the Leaving Cert so here’s the advice I was I had when I was in my 6th year.
Hit the ground running
This is different to 5th year – you know your teachers, you know your classmates, you know the lay of the land. You shouldn’t need much time to settle in. You need to get back into the pace of school work quite quickly as your teachers will start laying the work on you thick and fast. Begin able to hit the ground running will help you with the next piece of advice.
Finish projects early
Projects are like a set of golden handcuffs. This is because they give you the opportunity to get a large amount of points before you ever sit an exam. But the problem occurs when people are spending too much time on the run-up to exams on their practical assignments. This is the time you should be using to study. You shouldn’t be thinking about how much you have to do on your practical pieces! Get them out of the way and get studying.
Your Pre’s/ Mocks matter
In the long run, yes, your pre’s don’t matter (I can’t any longer remember how much I got on mine). But they do when you’re in the thick of it. Your mocks are a good benchmark of your current ability, study processes and determination. We would recommend you put in work in January to make sure you are getting around or above the points you need for your top choice on the CAO.
Really think about the course/ college you want to do
Most people won’t tell you this because they don’t want to. But choosing what college and course you do will have one of the biggest impacts on your life. This is probably the piece of advice I wish had most when in 6th year. I would argue that the college is a more important decision than the course.
Why is this? What university you end up going to will decide a lot about your future. It decides your friend group, influences your interests and moulds you into your early-to-mid 20’s. Originally I was planning to go to Trinity but after going to UL open day I changed. I decided to go there instead (I had the points to the same course in both but put UL first on the CAO) – I am so glad I did. I have had a great time in Limerick and can’t imagine how I would have been if I went to Dublin.
Why I don’t think your course matters is because unless you want to do something where you need special accreditation or skills such as Medicine – the working world is really malleable. I know engineers who were in insurance beforehand, computer scientists that are now bankers. The real skill is being able to apply yourself – so don’t focus on the course, focus on the place, the people and the activities of where you are going to go.
Get some downtime
This will probably be your most stressful year of school (and for a lot of people – more stressful than college, besides FYP/ dissertation). So you need to make sure you have some time for yourself. Do something that will help you to relax – read a book, have a bath, spend time on insta, meet some friends. Just remember while you have to study hard, we all know someone that goes too hard too quick and is burnt out after the mocks/ pre’s then doesn’t do well in the actual LC – so stay in this for the long haul.
Diet & Exercise is key
This is definitely something you should be dedicating your non-study time to. Make sure you have a balanced diet, drink water, don’t drink excessive amounts of caffeine (should stop drinking caffeinated drinks 6-8 hours before you go to bed). Minimise phone usage 1 hour before bed and make sure you are 7+ hours of sleep a night. While this might not be possible every day (sometimes you gotta burn that midnight oil!), try your best.
This goes hand in hand with exercise. It does not matter if it is cardio, martial arts, dancing, lifting – you name it. Just get out and get active. It will stop you from feeling lethargic. I also found it helped my mental and to clear my head after a long day of study.
Life after the LC
This is probably the saying I hated hearing the most when I was in my 6th year. When you are in the thick of it, it is hard to see past it. I won’t try to patronise you and belittle what you are going through. The Leaving Cert is tough but you can do this. We hope you take this advice on board as you go into your 6th year. Put your head down for this year and you will never need to look back at this period again!