Why Students Burnout
For most people doing the Leaving Cert is one of the most stressful things that they will do in their lives to that point. At the start of the year, some students go all out from the start and burnout by Christmas. They don't put in the required work for their mocks which means the mocks don't represent their ability. Some other people don't start studying until they get back to school in January with less than a month to the mocks. They go hard for a month then burn out for all of February and April.
Neither of these is the right approach - they both end up burnt out and not living up to their true potential for the actual Leaving Cert in June. So here's our advice on how to not burn out before you sit the Leaving Cert!
Set Realistic Points Goals
We all want to be that person that gets 625 points in the LC. But why do you want them? Is it just to show off? Instead, you should aim for more realistic points. Look at the grades you have been getting recently and retarget for a small bit more than what you are currently getting. I know this may mean that your dream course is out of reach but still put it down on your CAO. So if you do get it, great! But if you don't you still know what you want.
If you are gunning for those top points then you need to make sure you have a really good study plan in place and are disciplined.
Have a good school-life balance
While it might seem that you have to put your entire life on the back burner while you are doing the Leaving Cert this is a certain way to get burned out. If you only focus on the Leaving Cert you will not enjoy your time and will burn out. You should be studying but also make sure to balance it with some R&R with friends, family, pets or whatever else makes you happy.
It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
You can't just cram in all your study for the mocks then again just before the Leaving Cert. That is a recipe for burnout and disaster. You are much better having a base load of study that you ramp up over time, slowly increasing your time studying on the run-up to the mocks, then back off (a little but not completely) for a few weeks to do projects/orals and give yourself a little breather. You should ramp up the study once projects are done up to the Leaving Cert.
Manage your time correctly
There is no point in saying "I studied for 4 hours last night" when you spent half the time on TikTok. You are much better off concentrating on your study for less time in an uninterrupted stream. I use the Pomodoro technique to study what subjects I have allocated in my study plan. This will help alleviate the stress of feeling you have got nothing done when you can look back at all the successful study sessions you have done.
Similar to managing your time correctly, if you can minimise how much you are procrastinating it will help you. It can be tempting to put the study on the long finger. But you will sleep better knowing that you have done what you can on time.
Keep up your hobbies
This was key to stopping burnout for me. I didn't stop doing and planning my hobbies into what I was doing. It was paramount to me that I made sure that they were always in place. I would place all my studies around my activities. You need to keep your hobbies to have a symbol of normality so make sure you keep them up!
It is well known that getting out to nature be it on a walk, a run or just with friends is great for reducing your stress and helps you calm. This will allow you to rejuvenate yourself to get back to it! I would recommend going out either at the beginning or the end of your day. This is so you can have the mental break of starting or ending your day. I love an early morning run, but it all works!
Exercise & Health
Having a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help release endorphins, reduce stress and give you more energy! Even while I was sitting the Leaving Cert (i.e. in the middle of the exam time) I still made sure to find time to work out. This was because I knew how much more beneficial working out was. That hour workout would be better for me than studying another hour.
Do you have any tips on avoiding burnout? Let us know in the comments below or on Instagram
In today's world, it can be incredibly hard to concentrate on the work in front of you. Constantly we are bombarded with social media posts, stories, news updates, snaps from our friends, DMs and most importantly - memes. But with the Leaving Cert always looming (no matter whether you're in 5th or 6th year you're reading this). You need to be able to block out these distractions so you can get some real study done! You're better off doing 45 minutes of concentrated study rather than 2 hours of distracted work.
To help get you there - here are some of the best study apps we've used to help us study smarter every day!
Habitica is brilliant if you love video games - this app gamifies your life and your goals. It does this by giving you in-game rewards for your real-life tasks. The better and more real-life tasks that you complete, the more you progress in the game. If you slip up in life, your character starts backsliding in the game.
Habitica is all about accountability and responsibility. Completing your real-life tasks means you can tick off your Habitica tasks. These are your once-off targets (To Do's) e.g. finish an essay.
Things to do every day (Dailies) e.g. study for 45 mins. There are also the Habits that you are trying to do more of or stop doing. e.g. watching Netflix before bed.
The avatar you create in the games represents your progression in completing tasks. You can level up, gain gold, collect equipment, and find pets. This is all by simply accomplishing real-life tasks, remembering to do your daily chores, & avoiding bad habits.
This app/ game was great for me when I was studying for my Leaving Cert. It kept me accountable to make sure I hit my goals. It was a great feeling seeing my character level up as I was levelling up IRL. I stopped using this app as much as Notion and Dailio (which will be discussed later) is now my preference.
Forest is an app (and a chrome extension) to help you keep your focus.
You start by planting a seed in Forest, which you’ll watch gradually grow into a tree. But if you leave the app to open a Snap or check TikTok then the plant immediately dies and you’ll have to start over again. But you aren’t faulted the first time you exit out to access a different app. A banner pops up, warning you that your tree is going to die. If you do it a second time, you’ll have to start over. You can also set a white and black list - so that you can use certain apps (such as your calculator) but not others such as Instagram.
Setup is simple: after creating an account, you set a timer and begin your task. Depending on how long you set the timer. You’re able to see it count down as the tree grows above it. You’ll also see different encouraging phrases to remind you to keep going, like “Put down your phone!” or “Don’t look at me!”
I especially liked in a similar style to Habitica you receive coins for hitting your time goal. These coins are used to unlock more Tree styles (Doggo is my favourite). So you can plant your Forest to your personal style. You can also use these coins to plant real live trees!
This app works best when you use it in conjugation with the Pomodoro technique (which we explained in this blog post) to use the app effectively and make study frequently and without distraction!
If you, like me, spend too much time looking at productivity Youtubers. Then you probably already know of (and are probably using) Notion for your note-taking and organising. If you don't know - Notion is a productivity nerds dream. The Notion tagline is "The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.". Notion is a mix & match of the good bits from Google Docs, Evernote/ Google Keep, a To-do list & Kanban boards.
The block style of Notion allows for you to set up your pages with whatever you want - text, images, bullet points, code, kanban board, checklists etc. If you look online you will find templates that people have created to help them in school. We will be releasing our own Notion template for the Leaving Cert in a few weeks. So keep an eye out for that!
While not directly one of your "study apps". This does help you study more this will help you while you're studying. Insight Timer is a mediation app with the largest library of free meditation classes. There are classes for no matter what you are feeling - from needing to sleep, anxiety, stress, relationships etc. Meditation offers many benefits to your mental health and overall wellbeing, with the guided free classes you can be walked through the meditation process.
I have found this super helpful when I'm stressed to minimise how bad it is, help me get it off my mind, get to sleep. I would say while this not a "study tool" it is as important as any of the other apps we have already talked about.
Daylio/ Journalling App
Similarly to Insight Timer, journaling doesn't seem to be one of our "study apps". But it does have a direct impact on your study by getting you to be your best. Daylio is a mood-tracking and journal/diary app. This is a private journal (all data stays on your device) for tracking your moods, activities, habits, and goals. You will begin by choosing the mood (which can be changed). Then how you feel at that time. Finally followed by the activities you did that day (e.g., study, gym, hang with friends, etc.). You can set recurring activities with streaks to help you keep doing the activities - we would recommend you set one up for study or whatever other goals you have for a few times a week without fail. If you miss a day your streak will disappear (you can journal retroactively if you forgot).
The app gives weekly and monthly reports on your mood and activities. This is is a great resource to see how your mental health is on a larger timeframe. It is great to see if you're just having a bad day or two or if you need to talk to someone.
Additional Study Apps: Khan Academy
While it is not really an app Khan Academy is really helpful for your time in school! It is very helpful for learning sections of the Leaving Cert Maths course. Including arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, linear algebra. There are also courses based on Biology, Chemistry, Physics (no Ag Science sadly). It is a great resource to help you learn visually how to expand on your knowledge!
Let us know your favourite study apps below!
There is an old adage that says "Fail to plan, plan to fail". Therefore, it is important for any person doing the Leaving Cert to have a study plan in place. This will help to get the most out of your study time.
Have a physical study plan/ timetable printed out
This was the backbone of my study success. Having a physically printed out timetable made sure I knew what subject I had and when. My timetable was based off 25-minute blocks of study from 11:00-19:00. While you might say to yourself "8 hours of study, no chance of me doing that!". Don't worry I would be the same. I only did one and a half hours on a weekday and 2-3 hours on the weekends. Why is it 8hours? As it covers the entire day it stops me from studying only what I want. It doesn't matter if I start studying at 11 or 2 - there is always a mix of different subjects I am doing!
Timetable your disliked subjects for high traffic times
Everyone has the subjects they love and the subjects they hate in school. For me, it was Maths and Physics. Maths was just never my thing! I knew I had soccer training twice a week after school. So, I knew it would be extremely unlikely I would be studying at this time. But very likely I would be studying 45 minutes after it.
That is why I put the subjects I liked the most in the times I was least likely to study. Then the ones I didn't like on the time I was most likely! Having the timetable written down physically made sure that I couldn't worm out of learning differentiation. Your timetable becomes your accountability partner. I would highly recommend using the template from St Colmcille's. But, I would add more study sessions during school time so if you have a free class it will fit in there!
Are there any subjects you are struggling on? Make sure to check out some of our notes and projects on our shop!
Don't Stress About It!
Getting stressed about it will only make the problem worse. You need to trust in the process. If you build a good study plan, make sure to get a certain amount of study done each week. You will notice over time, once you get into the habit of studying, it will become second nature to you! I know you might be stressed out but please make sure to make time to do the things you enjoy. This will be the thing that will keep you sain and keep you coming back to study the next day.
Using The Pomodoro Technique / Block Learning
If this isn't the first blog you've read about how to study/ create a study plan you may have heard of the Pomodoro Technique. If you are unaware of it, it is a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo for a more productive way to work and study. It can be changed to suit but most commonly it is 25 minutes on a timer of concentrated focusing. Then a 5-minute break to do what you feel like (such as replying to Snaps, scrolling on Insta etc.) then get back to it! I found this has worked great for me as it sets clear boundaries of when study starts and ends. This is especially good if you're always scrolling aimlessly.
I would also combine this technique with an app such as Forest. In the forest app, you plant a sapling for a set amount of time. If you go on your phone in that time the tree dies and you've got a dead tree in your virtual forest. It won't work for everyone but I found it helped a lot.
Have a study space
While not exactly a "study plan", having a dedicated area where you can go to study is important to get rid of any distractions. What's the point of having a study plan if you can't implement it!
While some people don't have an option of where they can go to study. Here are some recommendations if you can.
Firstly, have the right ergonomics - this means having the right study setup. You should have an adequate size solidly built desk and a comfortable and supporting chair. Bonus tip: make sure to keep it tidy. You will find it harder to concentrate when you have a cluttered study space.
Secondly, have it away from distractions/ heavy footfall areas of the house. So that means the sitting room and kitchen table are both out of the question. This also includes the distraction of your phone (which can be taken care of with the previous step).
Create a To-Do list
I would highly recommend getting a little whiteboard and hanging it up where you can see it from your study space. Before sitting down to study for the day set out what you want to complete for that session. Then as you complete your objectives tick them off. This is one of the best things I found to help me study. On good study days, I get to look back at the end of the session. I get to see how I have done, which is usually much more than what I set out to do. But even on bad days when I think " I got nothing done today" the board tells the truth. It usually shows I still got a good bit done and is a great confidence booster!