How Student and Exam Coaching Works

To get the most out of coaching you must be:

  • Serious about wanting to change.
  • Ready to manage the negative thoughts and feelings, attitudes, behaviours, and actions that hold you back.
  • Prepared to try out new ideas or ways of doing things and reflect and learn from the experience.
  • Prepared to listen to feedback and act on it where appropriate to do so.
  • Prepared to spend time in between sessions working through any action points you set.

Case Studies

The following Case Studies will give you an idea of the kind of issues people bring to student and exam coaching and the quality of results that can be achieved.
All the names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.



Ruth was doing her first set of professional accounting exams. Ruth struggled with study in secondary school. In her words, she got an “ok” leaving cert and progressed into university. Through university, she described having highs and lows with her study. Ruth’s mode of study was to learn everything off. She would learn things off without really understanding what was being asked of her. She scraped a pass for her degree.

Ruth then became a trainee accountant where she started studying her professional accounting exams. Ruth did her first interim assessment and failed it. She knew she was struggling and reached out to me for support.

We started off by exploring how Ruth had studied for the exam that she failed. She was very honest and said she learned everything off without understanding what any of it meant.

We put a study plan in place that worked for Ruth. This study plan focused on spaced retrieval practice. In other words, Ruth tested herself on numerous occasions on her learning. This ensured Ruth was not learning topics off without really understanding what the topic was about.

At the outset Ruth said she found this tough as she said it felt like it was taking up a lot of time. She was right. Spaced retrieval practice does take up a lot of time. However, the time invested in space retrieval results in deep learning.

Ruth had three coaching sessions. The first session explored what she felt was the problem as well as looking at some tools that might help Ruth. Ruth practiced using these new tools. Next, we looked at what was working well in the new study plan and what other changes she could make. The last session was where she honed her new skills and reflected on the changes that she made over the weeks we worked together.

Ruth passed her exam with flying colours.



Joey was doing his thesis for his Masters. Joey came to me as he was stuck. Joey was struggling to get pen to paper for his thesis. He had completed his literature review and his methodology. He was finding it difficult to progress with his writing. In our first session, we explored why Joey was feeling stuck. It became apparent quickly that Joey held perfectionist beliefs. He felt like he could not commence writing until he had everything in order. This was holding Joey back and he was making no progress as a result. We spent some time in our first session using a Cognitive Behavioural Coaching tool to help Joey dispute this belief. We explored whether this belief was helping or hindering Joey.

In our next session, we looked at ways that would help Joey progress with his writing. We now had a little understanding of Joey’s perfectionist beliefs; in our second session it was also clear that Joey was easily distracted. We explored the environments he was trying to write in as well as what was causing him the most distractions. With Joeys distractions, we looked at what friction he could put in the system to support him.

By the end of our second session, Joey committed to an action whereby he would write for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. This is called the pomodoro technique.

In our final session, everything started coming together for Joey. Between our sessions, he had been working on his beliefs, manging his distractions and he also was using the pomodoro technique. Joey even managed to extend his 25 minutes of writing to 30 minutes of writing. In the space of a week, he had written 2,000 more words for his thesis. We closed out our last session by looking at all the other supports that were available to Joey. He said he was going to lean on his thesis supervisor a little more and use his college mates as a study support.

Joey received a first-class honours in his thesis.

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