Books Leaving Cert Students Need to Read

Image Title of Blog Post Books LC Students Need to Read

Books are one of the best ways to learn in my opinion. There is always something you can take away from them. While it may not teach you directly sometimes it's the best thing you’ve learned. I know you might feel that you already have to read so much for the Leaving Cert. There is so much more you can take away from books. Sometimes it is about knowing HOW to study rather than WHAT to study that can get you across the line!

These are some of the books I would recommend if you want to take your study to the next level. Also with notes on how they apply to students doing the Leaving Cert.

The Spirit of Kaizen:

Shows how you don't need to change everything at once, focus on smaller tasks and work from there. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that was applied to their manufacturing style to become a massive manufacturing and engineering hub after World War II (Honda, Sony, Toyota etc). Kaizen is about making lasting change, one small step at a time. This book shows you how you can apply this in multiple areas of your life.

How this affects LC students: This book can help students how to bring small lasting changes into their routine. This book emphasises the importance of micro changes that lead to compounding larger changes.

Atomic Habits:

Helps you set the systems to get towards your goals. The author describes how when we perform a habit there is a four-step pattern. The pattern we follow is: cue, craving, response, and reward. These are the sometimes invisible steps that form any good or bad habit. Therefore it is important for the habits you want to build these steps are obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. If you are trying to stop a bad habit then do the opposite to break the chain: make it invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying.

How this affects LC students: Breaking the bad habits such as going on TikTok while you should be studying. How to replace them with more positive ones by making them clear and easy e.g. already having your books, supplies, notes etc ready to go.
P.S. if you need some good notes to go with your study check out our notes!

Power of Habit:

If the idea of habit hasn't been drilled into your mind by reading atomic habits it will with this classic. The main addition in this book over atomic habits is about having the willpower to break the habit loop mentioned above. Willpower is a skill that can be developed over time. In the book the following approaches are:

  • Do something regularly that you need discipline - get a good gym routine, study before school or get a good diet. These are all approaches that make you practice delaying gratification increasing your willpower.
  • Plan for the worst case - when this worst case doesn't happen you will feel in control of the situation as you were covering all eventualities.

How this affects LC students: Building on Atomic Habits, this book explains that you need to have willpower. As a Leaving Cert student this can be hard between study, friends, going out, sports etc. But what should be highlighted willpower can be flexible.

Can’t Hurt Me:

In this book David Goggins shows the power of the mind and mental toughness. He shows you how it doesn't matter where you come from. Also what has happened in your life - you can always come away from the situation stronger than you were. Another way of saying it - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Throughout the book Goggins emphasis the importance of perseverance. To be the best version of yourself you need to put in the hard work and push yourself to areas you wouldn't before. He also goes on to say that most people that think they are giving their all are only giving 40% of their effort - there is still another 60% to go. This is where real growth is, going through the pain to expand your ability.

How this affects LC students: What I think LC students will really get from this is - you can always give more. You might think you are at your wits end but you still have more to give.

Digital Minimalism:

In this book Cal Newport describes how to go on a digital diet. The main point of this book is "A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” This is done through a digital declutter (with a 30 day social media hiatus, slowly bring it back in). He also highlights what he calls the social media paradox. That social media makes you feel connected and unconnected, happy and unhappy with your life.

How this affects LC students: Minimise your time on social media will contribute to you having better mental health, less FOMO, less distraction and more study. When compounded (like in Spirit of Kaizen) this can lead to you getting better and better grades as you focus on the Leaving Cert.


Carol S. Dweck sets out in this book to compare how some people have fixed or growth mindsets. Fixed mindset individuals believe that your abilities, thoughts and other features about you are all set in stone. These people also care a lot about what people think - judging themselves on how other perceive them and always seeking these individuals approval. Meanwhile those who have a growth mindset believe nothing about you is fixed and you can always learn. They are also low in jealousy, and get satisfaction from pushing themselves leading to self growth. They also see being around people that are more experience/ skilled as a positive as they can learn from them.

How this affects LC students: If I could give one mindset shift to anyone sitting the Leaving Cert it would be this. If you have a fixed mindset you will think "Oh I am not good at maths" or "I was never good at languages". You have already lost before you start. But if you have a growth mindset this can shift to "I am not good at maths but I am getting better". This ability to not think finitely is key to getting the grades you never thought were possible.

The 80/20 Principle:

If you haven't heard of the 80/20 principle/ pareto principle this is it - 80% of results (outputs) come form 20% of the work (inputs). In this book Richard Koch explains how a minority of people has the majority of the results - be it money, fame, sporting ability etc. This imbalance is natural occurrence where a slight advantage over time is compounded to mean a massive variance in results. You don't have to get exact figures of what constitutes the 80% of the outputs in your life.

How this affects LC students: Most of what you learn for each subject will never actually be tested. On the surface this is obvious. But it also means there is a lot of the Leaving Cert course you don't need to know very well. I read this book while I was in uni but I realised this principle was unknowingly applicable to the minimised version of my notes I created. Less than 10% of the notes had covered 75% of the course. Apply this to your study by knowing the core 10-30% of the course perfectly. The other parts have a good knowledge.
P.S. if you want some minimised notes of the must know 10-20% of courses, have a look at our minimised notes.

Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Shows the difference between our two systems which our brains run on - our subconscious/ automatic minds and conscious minds. They are constantly fighting for control of our thoughts and actions. This book teaches you how to counteract the slip into your automatic mind to help you focus your attention on the task at hand.

How this affects LC students: This highlights how your

Are we missing your favourite study book that we should know? We would love to hear what your favourite books are so make sure to let us know on Instagram

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