5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays


How to take advantage of the holiday period and still take a break!

5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays
5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and Leaving Cert students across the country are looking forward to a long awaited rest; a break from school and the endless study.  Take this two week period to recharge your batteries and return fit and ready for the last five months of second level education. Here are some tips to help you to get the most from the Christmas period – I’m guessing Tip #1 will be the most popular!

#1 R&R – Rest and Relaxation

Give yourself a respite period of three to five days where you do no study; instead relax and enjoy the festive season. Socialise, catch up on your sleep, give yourself a duvet day and binge on Christmas TV, check out the sales and spend your vouchers; do whatever you find takes your mind off school and exams and ENJOY IT. These are guilt free rest days.

#2 Review Targets and Goals

Now that your Christmas exams are behind you, you can finally breathe and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Re-examine your exam targets and goals. How are you doing? Are you meeting your subject targets? Do you need to reconsider exam levels in one or more subjects? It is a good idea to be realistic. If you are struggling in a subject, now might be the time to drop to a lower level. Consider the effort it will take in the coming months to get this subject over the line – will the effort eat into the time you could be devoting to other subjects? Be realistic and make informed and logical decisions.

#3 Research Careers

It is difficult to find the time to research careers when you are steeped in study notes, grinds and exams. Researching careers is always something that can be put on the long finger, especially if you are feeling unsure about what career you want to go into. Now that you have a bit of a break it would be a good time to browse career sectors and occupations. Finding the right career for you is a decision you don’t want to make lightly. You need to invest time exploring career sectors and occupations to get a sense of what appeals to you. But where to begin?

CareersPortal have seven broad career areas that are subdivided into career sectors. Begin broad and whittle your way down. Explore our occupations database and browse through our career interview videos to get a flavour of working in your chosen sector. Need more information? Read what our Sector Experts have to say and browse our employer insights.  http://www.careersireland.net

#4 Get your College Application Ready

Many students postpone college applications until after Christmas. This is understandable as school commitments and exams are prioritised. Now that you are getting a break from school, the Christmas holidays is a good chance to invest time in researching courses and getting your college application underway.


CAO applications are due by 1st February. If you plan on applying for a restricted course you must enter it by this deadline. This deadline also applies to HEAR and DARE applicants. CAO do offer a Change of Mind facility that enables students to put off making a decision on courses up until 1st July but why wait so long? When will you ever find time to research courses in the next term when you have Mocks, Orals, Portfolios and Coursework due, Practical exams and of course Leaving Cert exams to prepare for. Use this two week period to get the bulk of the research done; use the Change of Mind window to tweak it.

The coursefinder on CareersPortal is great way to find all courses listed on CAO. Watch some of our course videos and find out what current students and lecturers have to say about their courses. Click here to read the CAO Guide.

Further Education / Post Leaving Cert (PLC)

PLC colleges are already accepting applications for 2019/2020. If you wish to be considered for a place in Further Education you will need to start researching now and applying. Applications for Further Education are made directly to the college. Check out the relevant college’s website to register and make an online application. Click here to use coursefinder to research PLC courses.

For more information on PLC courses click here.


If you are planning on applying to college in the UK you will need to urgently give attention to your UCAS application. The 15th January deadline is fast approaching. You will need to get a reference and write a personal statement; both of these require a good deal of time to prepare and submit. For tips and advice on writing a personal statement and asking for a reference read the two articles linked below.

How to Ask for a School Reference

Writing a Good Personal Statement

#5 Study

The words holidays and study don’t usually go together but in 6th year study unfortunately cannot be avoided – even during holiday periods. Tip #1 told you to take a break for 3-5 days. That leaves 11 – 13 days of study! It doesn’t need to take away from your Christmas break though. Just make sure to pencil in a few hours a day. If you aim to get three hours of study completed each day you will be well set up for your return to school in January. For advice on studying check out the study section in CareersPortal.

 All that is left to say is….

Merry Christmas

Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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