The magic formula to transform your teens stress with study

    “I will work harder.”

    This of course is a quote from George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm.

    This was also my main strategy when I sat my Leaving Cert for the first time (a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.)

    On Saturday, I spoke with a very determined and ambitious young man. He is working very, very hard towards his Leaving Cert in June.

    The subject he is struggling most with is Biology.

    This is a big course with lots of content and many terms to ‘learn off’.

    Agricultural science is similar. It is also a huge course.

    The problem for many Leaving Students is that they do not have the tools or the frameworks to cope with this volume of content to learn.

    For the class of 2024, the last of the Covid kids who did not sit a Junior Cert the LC is overwhelming. As one of my students told me recently, her mock exams is her first ‘proper’ exam after 6 years in secondary school.

    Many are drowning is a sea of stress trying to hammer their way through all this material.

    Enter Greg McKeown.

    He is the author of the excellent book Essentialism.

    This is a book where the core message can be distilled down to three words:


    He says that certain types of effort yield higher rewards.

    In fact Vifredo Pareto introduced the idea in the late 1800’s. Pareto was an Italian economist who had just completed a study on the wealth in Italy. He concluded 80% of the country’s wealth was owned by 20% of the population.

    That summer he was harvesting peas in his little pea garden. He noticed something very interesting. 80% of the harvest came from 20% of the pea pods. Boom! He started seeing this 80/20 distribution everywhere.

    The Parento Principle

    I remember Eoghan came to me a few years ago. He had just failed his Ag Science mock. He had a ‘mare. He sat in my office almost crying. 17% was a tough place to be 10 weeks before his Leaving Cert exams.

    This lad had done the work. He had spent hours writing notes. He had two and a half hardback foolscap notebooks to prove it. He scratched his head.

    “There has to be a better way.”

    I listened and agreed.

    It was time to parachute in Pareto.

    Let’s 80/20 this bitch.

    I showed him my History Topic list.

    As an experiment I went back and studied LC history a few years ago to test my theories.

    Our teacher had identified twelve Hot Topics. Of that twelve there were eight chapters that were double hot. That’s hot x 2! In other words, they had a very chance of coming up in the exam that summer. He was pointing to the trends.

    I narrowed down the course and could get rid of nearly 70% of the content – not quite 80% but I was okay with that. Now I had a system and I was all over those hot chapters and topics.

    80/20 applied to Lc history

    And guess what? They came up in the exam.

    I nailed the H1. The principle worked!

    I showed Eoghan the same thing. He narrowed Ag Science to about eight Hot Topics. He nailed a H2 and went up by 150 points from his mocks.

    Grazie Signore Pareto.

    The Leaving Certificate is a game.

    Once you understand the rules and the frameworks it is very doable. And a lot less stressful.

    It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter.

    They don’t teach you this stuff in school. Maybe they should? And that way your teen wll be a lot less anxious and a lot more confident.

    Until next time, keep RAYSING THE GAME!

    Ray Langan

    Ray Langan

    I help students and young people go from anxious and overwhelmed to calm and confident (and get better grades than ever before). I show students how to study smarter and learn faster using my unique methods. I am an award winning speaker, coach and therapist and I can help you help your teen to RAYSE THEIR GAME.

    Upcoming Events

    Motivation March Seminars

    We are now taking bookings for the RAYSE THE GAME MOTIVATION MARCH TOUR. Get In Touch Now.

    Elevate coaching and mentoring programme

    ​Watch our free webinar here for more information and book a Clarity Call with me or one of my team so we can talk about your highly anxious teen.