With the Leaving Cert approaching quickly, now is the time to get organised for positive study habits. Here are 5 tips for successful study outcomes you can share with your teen.


If possible find a quiet place to work and keep that place only for studying. That way you will easily get into study mode each time you go there.

Set up your study area thinking about how you learn best e.g. If you need a good reading space create a comfortable hassle free area to read without distraction.

Don’t have facebook or other social media on devices you use for study. You will be distracted all the time. Borrow an old computer or notepad and use it only for notes and study.

Some people need background noise to concentrate. If that’s you, play music or have the radio on quietly. Don’t play anything too loud as it will distract you from your work.

Stay well hydrated. Your brain works with electrical energy which is relayed through water. If you get dehydrated you will start to feel confused and overwhelmed very quickly because your brain is not able to function correctly. Good focus takes a lot of brain power which takes a lot of water.


Just like physical training, the mind retains and and understands what it learns better when it has down time to process what it takes in.

Study for a solid two hour interval then have a two hour break and go and do something completely different. Take your mind off the study. This allows your work to be absorbed and integrated. Overwhelm impedes retention and integration of learning. A fully focused 2 hours of study is equivalent to 7 hours of study when you are being distracted all over the place.


Get your priorities sorted regarding how you are going to understand your subject.Do you need to address all learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), or do you have a preferred learning style?

Do you learn easily when you are watching or reading and taking notes? If so, you are a natural visual learner. If so try using mindmaps and use symbols to represent ideas. Colour can also to help you remember the most challenging parts of your study.

If you are an auditory learner it helps to explain to someone else your understanding and get them to ask you questions. For the parts that are difficult, record them on your phone and listen to your recordings.

If you are a kinesthetic learner, you will find it easier to learn while you are moving. You can also record things and listen while you are walking or doing something physical. Record questions of the parts you are finding more challenging with a space to answer, then record the real answer afterwards to check. Kinesthetic learners usually like to doodle, swing on their chairs (sorry parents) and tap their feet. This allows them to concentrate more easily. Use spatial exercises to help you remember things e.g. The earth and planets could be set up with fruit or other objects. Get your body involved in some way and you will find it much easier to retain information.

Some people have a very strong preferred way of learning, others have a mixture and are more flexible. Understanding your own unique learning style can help you set up your study for ease and dare I say – even enjoyment!


If you find it easy to study and are good at managing your time, you will fit your study schedule in with your daily life, ensuring you engage in having some fun and exercise each day as well.

But if you are worried and believe you won’t do well it helps to create a solid structure. Have someone to report to about how things are going and any help you need. Prioritise your studies each day before rewarding yourself with down time, social media etc. Give yourself a two hourly schedule in the morning. Have a two hour break over lunchtime. Take that time to exercise as well as eat and talk to friends etc. Then set another 2 hours work in the afternoon. If you really focus for those four hours you will cover a lot of ground.


Know that you can do well if you convince yourself that it is possible. If you find you doubt your ability, say to yourself 3 times in the morning and 3 times at night before sleeping:

“I am capable, intelligent and good enough to get what I need from these exams.”

This will help reprogram you for success. Beliefs can take a minimum of 21 days to reprogram, so start now!

During the day when you find yourself stressing out about exams notice what you are saying to yourself about your ability. Replace it with the same affirmation – saying it to yourself 3 times to really let the message in.

The truth is, unless you have a serious learning difficulty or can’t express what you think through writing, you are capable of getting the results you require.

If you learn easily enough but have problems expressing what you know on paper, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and read this to yourself:

“ Every thought I have is valid and I choose to express it even when I think it’s not good enough. By accepting and expressing my thoughts I get better each time I write. By rejecting my thoughts as being not good enough or clever enough I justify my belief that I am not good enough. When I express what I think, no matter how simple it is, by writing it down I will become unstuck.”

Remember that these days your Leaving Cert doesn’t have to define your future. It may simply delay what you want to do. Many people find that starting college a few years later, when they are clear about what they are really interested in can lead to better college outcomes. A job that isn’t very exciting can create the incentive to get back on track with your learning. Mature students do not require a Leaving Cert to enter college in Ireland, but would be need to succeed in a course that gears them up for their chosen undergraduate course.

Katie Kalin is a kinesiologist and coach from NZ. She runs her own clinic in Cork and offers an online service to help anyone challenged by pain or fear. Katie was a Supervising Tutor for a Performing Arts School in N.Z. She visited 22 secondary schools in Cork annually for over 5 years as part of the UCC ACCESS programme run by Graffiti Theatre Company.

To Find out more about her go to www.katiekalin.com