As I’m sure you have all heard the Department of Education has closed all schools until the 29th of March due to the Covid-19 virus. It is of the utmost importance to use these two weeks wisely if you’re looking to improve your grades for the upcoming Junior or Leaving Certificate. In this article, we will give a few tips to help you use your time off in the most efficient manner. The first piece of advice I will give is to not worry about what you haven’t covered yet but worry about what you can cover if you spend your time wisely.
It is all well and good to you say you’re “going to study tomorrow” but in reality, you need a plan. Make a day by day plan and in this plan include exactly which topics you want to cover each day. For example, make a timetable where you are going to start studying at 10 am each day and do 5 one hour slots. In a slot, you would cover a single topic e.g. Learn quotes for one of your English poems, practice past differentiation past questions. Do not write “English study” or “Irish oral”, you must be specific for this to work. Then at the end of the day cross off what you have done. Here is a sample timetable you can print off to help you get started.
It is very important to understand what chapters are on each course. Ideally, you should look to the index of your textbook or look on ExamLearn.ie to see which chapters are in each subject. Then cross off the ones you have covered in class and then find the ones you have yet to cover. Since there is no definite timeline for the ending of the virus it could be worthwhile to cover chapters you have not yet done in class just in case. If you feel school could resume in 2 weeks well then leave it but for the cautious students definitely try to finish the courses sooner rather than later, it also makes revision easier come closer to the exams.
Turn your phone on airplane mode at all times while studying. This is an obvious one but so many students “study” when in reality they are continuously interrupted by their phones. Some students like studying with music but I personally recommend against this practice, especially music with words in it. It is almost impossible to fully concentrate with music on in the background. However, if you hate the sound of silence I recommend using study or focus songs. Here is a link to a Spotify playlist with a few in it. This takes discipline so I recommend putting your phone on airplane mode and then setting a 45-minute timer, which brings me to my next point.
Use a timer to accurately time each slot of study. This works for two reasons: once you put that timer on it’s a mental trigger for focus, you are now in study mode and nothing else until that timer buzzes. And secondly, it will focus your time and not let your mind wander while studying. If you have something planned in that 45 minutes tell yourself you have to get it done in that 45 minutes. The same logic goes for your study breaks. These must be timed. 15 or 20 minutes whatever feels comfortable but do not break these timers otherwise you’ll get distracted and could end up wasting hours.
Writing notes is great if you have the time or if you have already done this throughout the year. At this stage in the year, I would strongly advise against writing full sets of notes for subjects. Your time is far better spent either writing flashcards of just the main points in topics and consistently recalling them in your head or practicing exam questions. We have a great selection of notes already prepared on ExamLearn.ie if you don’t want to read the full textbooks. Another good study technique is once you have revised a topic close the notes or book and see if you can call back in your head exactly what was on each page or the headings of the questions you need to remember.
One key thing which is often overlooked while studying is the importance of practicing exam questions. In essence, the idea is if you know what is asked often, how it is asked and could it be potentially asked this year then you are able to tailor your revision around this. There are many cases where textbooks and the actual exam vary in content and in questions. It is extremely important to know what is asked in the exams. The best way to practice this question is described in the following situation: So you are studying Hamlet, you could waste your time reading the text again, reading back through summaries, etc, or you could look at past questions on Hamlet and determine what exactly the examiners are usually asking e.g. key themes, use of imagery or the characters. Then you only revise and practice questions regarding these things. The same goes for any other subject. It is also important to time yourself doing these questions to fit the exam scenario and then take a look at the marking scheme and judge yourself. On ExamLearn.ie we have all of the past exam questions broken down topic by topic available for you for free to easily access without having the trawl through examinations.ie.
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