Saturday 17 March 2018

Completing the Junior Cert

Frank McCarthy, principal of Yeats College Waterford, says the Junior Certificate is an important exam not least because it allows students to move forward with confidence

I welcome all students and their parents to this edition of Exam Brief, the first of our two supplements covering the Junior Certificate. It should provide a valuable resource for you during the time that remains before the examination. Students can greatly influence their performance in the Junior Certificate by the way they approach work particularly at this stage. There are lessons to be learned from a student's preparation for and performance in the examination. The experience gained in the Junior Cert is very significant in establishing motivation and definite academic goals as students enter the senior cycle.

The greatest value in the Junior Cert lies in the effect the results will have on the student and, therefore, on the way that they will approach the Leaving Certificate. The results gained in the Junior Cert will affect the confidence and self belief of each individual student. In September, when the results are received, students very often compare their own grades with those achieved by their friends. I have found that students who are disappointed with their results often express the wish to repeat the exam because they are well aware they are capable of doing better.

However, when a student believes that the results are a genuine reflection of their ability and of the amount of work completed, this tends to have a very positive effect. The students have now learned that efforts made at school will be reflected in what they have achieved and this establishes a very firm foundation for the greater challenge presented by the Leaving Certificate examination.

Looking to the future Another positive effect of working hard over the next few months is that many of the study skills and techniques developed during this time will form important building blocks for the work required to prepare for the Leaving Certificate. By doing their best the student has now shown themselves and the wider world of family, friends and teachers exactly what can be done. This is a powerful message which tends to remain etched in the minds of young people. A more tangible benefit from achieving good Junior Cert results will await any student considering applying to a third level college in the UK after the Leaving Cert. Many courses in the UK require specific grades to be achieved in the Junior Certificate in subjects such as English, Maths and Science, and students will not be eligible for certain courses unless they meet these requirements.

Most Junior Cert students have also been looking ahead to the challenges presented by Fifth Year and they may already have made their subject choices for senior cycle. As students embark on their senior cycle, they will have to make a fundamental step up in the quality and quantum of study. Students should feel confident about their ability to make this adjustment especially if they have established good foundations at Junior Cert level.

At Yeats College, we guide our students on the amount of time they need to dedicate to work and on the best ways to use this time through careful planning. We find that by providing thorough, motivated and effective teaching, and by scheduling very frequent assessments, students learn how to prepare for the challenges ahead. They are required to adjust to the demands of senior cycle work in all sorts of ways, and we provide students with the advice and support to enable them to make this vital transition. It may seem strange to say, but the vast majority of students that join us for senior cycle take great enjoyment from their studies, gaining satisfaction from being in control, working through a structured programme, learning effectively, taking their breaks, but, then, coming back to their plan.

We have a strong legacy of enabling students to achieve their goal. Learning is meant to be interesting, engaging and, yes, even fun. Making it so, means engaging with it now, using these valuable weeks of term to good effect.

You'll never regret it.

Frank McCarthy, Principal, Yeats College Waterford

Irish Independent

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