The Leaving Certificate is a stressful year for many pupils and parents from the onset, and while there is no getting away from the sheer volume of work involved, there is plenty that can be done to ensure the next nine months of study are effective.
When it comes to studying, Arthur Godsil, former Headmaster of St. Andrew's College, Dublin, and founder of KickStart, believes the single most important thing students can do is to work exclusively from past exam papers.
As he says, there are only so many questions that can be asked on a particular topic, so it is important to design the study around what they are going to be asked. In fact, one of the biggest downfalls for pupils during an exam is not understanding the question.
His advice is that students do one question a night between now and the summer and to get feedback from their teacher - this way, they will know where they are falling down and how they can get that sought-after A.
When it comes to the actual task of studying, however, Arthur believes it is an individual and personalised task and suggests each pupil stick to the process that they find most effective – whether it means taking a break every 20 / 40 minutes or working in blocks of two or three hours.
However, it is not just about sitting at a desk - it is also vital that your teen exercises and that normal life continues in terms of hobbies. In fact, those who continued to take part in sports actually fared better in exams than those who didn’t.
It’s not all about the kids though, parents can help too – but in a more passive way than they might think. According to Arthur, parents need to provide an environment at home that is compatible to their child’s study i.e. with little or no distractions. And rather than telling kids to study, you should instead ask if they need help in terms of more books or notes. Try to ensure the home is a place of complete calm and that you allow the school to do the work while you offer the support. However if parents are concerned, he suggests they talk to the school and teacher.
Arthur has worked with hundreds of students throughout the years and is well used to the perils of the LC. His KickStart programme is centred around feedback and advises students to focus on their stronger subjects; to adopt a strength-based approach to their study. As kids grow in their area of strength, there is a noticeable improvement in other areas. 
If you are interested in your child getting involved in the KickStart programme, a free seminar, aimed towards sixth year students, will take place in Stillorgan Park Hotel on Thursday, 18th September from 7:30pm – 8:30pm. Here Arthur will outline the programme which runs over five evenings from 29th September – 3rd October.
If you would like to attend the seminar you can register here.