Top ten tips from the experts to make the most of pre-exam time
From managing time to reading the examiner's mind, here's what you need to focus on . . .
Published 25/05/2011 | 05:00
As the moment of truth approaches, nerves in many households are becoming a little frayed.
Students still have a chance to brush up on their exam technique for the Junior and Leaving Certs, and get themselves in the right frame of mind.
While they swot their way through the final days they should stay cool, calm and collected.
Talk to any successful exam candidate and they will tell you that they do not overdo it on the final lap.
Keith Styles, Schools Liaison Officer at Griffith College, says: "There is still plenty of time for final revision but it is vital to prepare properly in other areas, such as time management and general exam technique.''
Psychologist Michael Hogan of NUI Galway said students should keep in mind that exams are more like a marathon race and less like a sprint.
He said: "We may be able run at speed for a short burst, but can we maintain a fast and steady pace for the long run?''
1 LOOK INSIDE THE MIND OF THE EXAMINER
Dermot Lucey, author of the revision guide Less Stress More Success for history, says students can benefit by studying exam questions from previous papers.
"When you are revising topics, look at all the exam questions that have come up on that topic.
"For example, if I was studying Hitler in history, I would list all questions about him.
"It helps you to look at the topic from the right angles.''
A1 students also look carefully at the exam marking schemes from previous years.
Available at examinations.ie, they offer an insight into what the examiner is looking for.
2 SPICE IT UP
You are in control of what you study so make it as interesting for yourself as possible.
Alternate your subjects regularly. Study the subjects you find more difficult earlier in the day when you are not quite as tired.
If you have a mental block about something or you are tiring, switch to another subject to refresh your mind.
3 LEARN TIME MANAGEMENT
Manage your time effectively while revising.
Keith Styles of Griffith College says you should study in 45 minute blocks, using sample exam papers to test yourself for an extra 10 minutes.
"Later, test yourself on a full exam question by answering a question in the time that it would take under exam conditions. ''
4 TAKE BREAKS AND SNOOZE YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
It is important to take regular breaks while revising. Stop working at least every few hours.
A brisk walk will help you to relax and concentrate. Exercise also helps students to sleep during a stressful time.
Regular sleeping patterns are crucial and it is vital to avoid burnout.
Research published in 1998 showed that pupils who got lower grades went to sleep on average 40 minutes later than top exam performers.
Psychologist Michael Hogan said: "Research suggests that physical activity -- and aerobic activity in particular -- has a very positive effect on mood.
"Rather than pushing beyond the fatigue barrier while studying at your desk at home take intelligent breaks -- go out for a jog, a cycle, a walk, or simply do some dancing for 20 minutes, take a shower and come back to your desk.''
5 PACE YOURSELF THROUGH EXAMS
Students should be careful to pace themselves through the exams.
It is all too easy to get very worked up about the early exams, and stay up all night cramming, while neglecting later papers.
6 BEWARE OF PET SUBJECTS
As the exams get closer, pressurised students can sometimes rely too heavily on their favourite subjects.
Normally you should spend equal time on each subject, but allocate a little extra time to those you find most difficult.
7 CHECK SUPPLIES AND TIMETABLE
Pupils can become flustered by minor details and caught out by practicalities, such as a battery not working on a calculator, or a missing ruler.
Check all stocks of stationery and equipment a few days before the exams start.
Check the exam timetable rigorously.
8 STUDY THE LAYOUT IN ADVANCE
Familiarise yourself with the layout of the paper in advance.
Work out in advance how many questions you will have to complete, what the marks are for each question, and how much time you should spend on each answer.
9 PLAN YOUR ANSWERS
Read the entire paper, and decide which questions to answer.
Sometimes, in the initial panic, students think they can't answer anything. Take a deep breath and read the paper again.
You will spot keywords that you recognise. Circle these immediately.
Draw up a time plan for your answers and stick to it. Deal with all elements of the question and give yourself enough time to revise your answer.
10 ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS AND DON'T LEAVE EARLY
Don't leave any questions unanswered. If you are short of time, use note form.
Don't leave the exam hall early.
If you have time at the end, go over your work, and add information, if necessary.