That's okay! Let's take a moment.

We all get stressed out sometimes. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Exam years in particular can be very tough, but so can any other year in school. Studying and putting the work in can be draining - I know, I've been there. I still am in a sense! So, if you're feeling that drain right now, stop and take a few moments to relax.

Do something nice for yourself.
Listen to some music. Read a (non-school-related) book. Draw a picture. Go for a walk. Do whatever it is that you like to do, and unwind. Whatever way your study is arranged, make sure you have breaks roughly every 40 minutes. Your brain will thank you for it! Make sure to put the kettle on and get yourself something nice to eat too.

Remember who you're doing this for.
You're doing this for yourself. Whether it's the Junior Cert or the Leaving Cert, you're taking this step by yourself, for yourself, on to the future. Try not to worry about expectations, just focus on what you want to achieve for yourself.

Do the very best that you can.
That's all any of us can do. We can't all be good at everything (I was awful at Maths) but we can try our best at everything. Not doing well at something doesn't mean we're no good (I'm still awful at Maths), it means there's something else there that we're brilliant at. No matter what that thing is, we all find it at some point. But no matter what it is that you're doing, whether it's History or Maths or English or Biology, just try your best. We only fail when we don't try.

If you're feeling the pressure, tell people about it. Your friends in school might be feeling the exact same thing. Your family can help you to relax at home. Your teachers can help you with your study. No matter what the problem is, whether it's related to exams and study or something else, it's always better to share it with people who you know you can trust. We all find ourselves with problems we need to share at some point.

Hopefully, you've taken some time to relax now, you have a nice warm cup of tea next to you, and you're ready to go back to the books and notes. If not, take a little while longer. Just remember: Do something nice for yourself, remember who you're doing this for, do the very best that you can, and if you need to, talk.

(I ended up with a B1 in Ordinary Level Maths. Never would have dreamed it could happen!)

Take care of yourself.

The Samaritans are available to talk if you're feeling down. You don't have to be suicidal to contact them, they'll talk to you about any problems that might be causing you to feel anxious or sad, from exam pressure to relationship problems and anything else.
You can call them free and anonymously at 116 123 (from the Republic of Ireland).
You can visit their website and find out where your nearest Samaritans branch is located.
You can email them (anonymously) at

Mental Health Ireland have a nice list of Exam Stress Tips.


The Turnover Project is a mini-company set up by Transition Year students from Donegal, designed to inform young people about their mental health and to point them to other resources.

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