History is a fascinating subject that transports you back to some of the most important events of the past, says Derek Deane of Yeats College Waterford
When studying history make sure that you are not simply reading your textbook without doing any writing. As you read make your own notes. Keep these notes as brief as you can. Make note of things such as key terms, personalities and dates. Within each topic or chapter sort your notes under the following headings, the three Cs: causes, course, consequences. The textbook will help you to understand the events but your notes should be condensed down to the bare facts that you need to learn in order to be able to write a detailed and accurate answer.
When you have finished revising a topic take out your past papers and search for the questions that relate to the topic that you have studied. Put away your textbook and notes and then test your knowledge by writing out answers. Make sure that you pay attention to the recommended time for each question. After you have written your answer go and find the relevant section in your textbook and check to see what ideas or details you left out of your answer.
When studying for question 3, the short questions, your past papers represent a valuable resource. Test yourself against these questions, don't bother selecting 10 from 20, just try to answer them all. You can download the marking scheme for past papers from www.examinations.ie. However, you will be more likely to remember the answers if you go to the effort of searching for the answer in your textbook. Use the index in the back of your textbook to make the process of finding the relevant information easier.
Dates can be quite difficult to remember if they feel like random and meaningless numbers to you. Try to think about the numbers in a way that they might mean something to you personally. For example, if you are studying Martin Luther and you would like to be able to memorise the year 1517, the year in which he posted his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, you might be able to say I am 16 years old now so I just need to remember my age last year and next year. Or maybe I'm 15 doing my junior cert and I'll be 17 doing my leaving cert. Michael Collins was killed at Béal na Bláth on the 22nd of August 1922, 22/8/22. Think of four 2s and four 2s are 8. If you go to the effort of trying to devise little memory aides like these, there is a very good chance that you will be able to remember the date. Details are much more likely to stay in your long-term memory if you have really thought and puzzled about them.
You will have 2.5 hours to do the exam. There are six questions on the exam, there are choices within these six questions, but you need to provide answers for each of the six questions. Questions 1, 2 and 3 require short answers and these are to be written into the exam booklet underneath each of the questions. Questions 4, 5 and 6 require mostly essay style answers and these are to be written into your answer booklet.
It is important that you realise the first three questions are worth 50 marks (28%), while the last three questions are worth 130 marks (72%). In other words, make sure you don't spend too long on the first three questions and then find yourself running out of time for the most important part of the paper.
Question 1: Sources; Pictures
For this question you will be asked to examine visual sources relating to three different topics on the course. When examining these pictures take care to read any text included in the picture as it may provide very useful information. Read the questions carefully, if you are asked to give two pieces of evidence/information in your answer make sure you do this clearly. In this section the use of numbering or bullet points within your answer is fine and they can help you think clearly about providing the right amount of information.
Question 2: Sources; Documents
For this question you will be asked a number of short questions based on two documents. The documents can relate to any topic on the course. Most of the questions will ask you to find information within the document, so it is very important that you read the question carefully and be clear about what exactly is being asked.
Question 3: Short-answer questions
On this question there are 20 short questions, of which you will be marked on your 10 best answers. This question is worth 20 marks (11% of total). This is a question that many students will spend too much time on. Instead of reading every question in order to decide which 10 questions you are going to answer just start writing in brief answers to the questions as you read them. Don't spend more than 25 minutes on this question. There are past papers going back to 2006. If you make sure that you are familiar with the questions that have been asked on this question over the years you will be well prepared for this question.
Question 4: People in history
In this question you will be given two lists of people from the past. Part A of the question will refer to people from the earlier section of the course, i.e. roughly before 1600. Part B of the question will refer to people who lived after 1600. You will need to do one question from each of these two lists. This is an important part of the paper as both questions are worth 20 marks, meaning question 4 is worth 40 marks (22% of the total). The marking scheme for each essay requires 8 Significant Relevant Statements (SRS) at 2 marks each. The remaining 4 marks are assigned as the Overall Mark; this will reflect how well written your answer was and how well you dealt with the question as it was asked. You should aim to write about 1 page in the booklet for each of these two essays and allow around 15 minutes for each essay.