The Blueprint for Effective Studying


Learning and understanding a topic in class is one thing, but trying to cram everything at home to reiterate on the day of the exam requires a different set of skills. This phase of studying relies on structure and organization to be successful as opposed to intellectual ability. Explained below is the step-by-step guide to studying that we recommend at This guide can be applied to any topic, in any subject, in both Leaving Cert and Junior Cert.

1. Scan through Past Paper Questions:

• After learning a topic in school, the first thing we recommend you do before studying it is to look at questions that have come up in previous years. This will allow you to see which questions come up most frequently and which questions carry most marks. Consequently, you can identify any patterns/repetition and take notes of these observations either mentally or on paper.

• The easiest way to go over all past exam questions related to a certain topic is to use our Exam Topics feature, which is completely free. For, example if you were sitting Leaving Cert Business and wanted to study marketing you can find all questions from previous years related to that topic here.

2. Create an ‘Exam Sheet’:

• The next step is to go over your notes/textbook for the topic you are studying. With step 1 in mind, read over the material and take down short notes (ie. dates/formulae/quotes) that you think are key and relate to questions that come up frequently. The notes taken should be short and sweet and will be referred to as your ‘Exam Sheet’ for the purpose of this guide. Study your ‘Exam Sheet’ well before moving on to step 3.

3. Practice Exam Questions:

• Now you should go back over past exam questions and attempt them this time instead of just scanning through them. For subjects like maths and certain questions in physics, it is really important to write out the solutions to ensure you can complete each step involved (Math solutions look a lot easier when you simply read through them, and writing answers out is the best way to highlight and amend any potential errors). However, for certain questions in subjects such as Irish and Business it can be more time-efficient, and as effective, to think of what you would write in your head and physically write down key points only, as oppose to writing out essays/long answers each time.

• Your answers should then be compared to the marking schemes (At ExamLearn the marking schemes can be found underneath the questions in our Exam Topics feature by clicking the dropdown option). If you got any question wrong or were unable to answer a question, you should go back to your notes/textbook and add any relevant material to your ‘Exam Sheet’ so that you will be able to answer that question if you see it again. If something you answered incorrectly is already on your ‘Exam Sheet’ it should be highlighted to indicate that it needs to be revised again.

4. Repetition:

• You should aim to practice as many past exam questions as possible (If you have completed them all, go over them a second/third time). It is also important to go over each topic frequently, even if you just practice one question a week, so that the material stays fresh in your head.

5. Before the Exam:

• This ‘Exam Sheet’ you have made is now the perfect aid for studying before the exam as it contains all the material that comes up frequently, as well as the material that you have struggled with in a given topic. I would also advise reading over your original notes/textbook in the days before the exam just so everything is fresh in your head in case any unusual question comes up. However, your cheat sheet will most likely contain everything you need to ace the exam so everything on that should be learned by heart.

Remember, our Exam Topics feature at ExamLearn is completely free. Head over to our website for access to the other features we provide such as study notes, study tips and 1-1 Video grinds across a wide range of subjects for both Junior and Leaving Certificate.

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