In many schools, sixth year students have been sent home to make the preparations for their Leaving Certificate exams. It is likely that there have been many celebrations to mark the end of this significant milestone in their lives. It is an exciting time for these young people and their families and it is important that we park exam stress and preparations for a moment to recognise, reflect and celebrate achievements thus far.
Guiding a young person to this point is no easy task and this week’s celebrations are as important for the parents as the young person themselves. However, exams are looming and it would be neglectful not to return to work once these celebrations are over. It may take a little time to settle into a good study routine, and below are some pointers.
As much as possible, study in the same location every day. It is better if this is somewhere at home (you may not always have access to a library or school), although this is not always possible in busy households. Keep this space tidy and clutter-free. If struggling to stay on task, consider following your school timetable.
Know what you want to achieve. Keep lists of topics or items that need to be covered in order of priority. It can be hugely motivating to tick off each item. At the end of each study session decide which items you will tackle at the next session and consider how you will go about them. This allows students to make the most of their study time and also helps then get started when motivation is low.
Judge revision on what you would like to achieve and not how many hours are spent at the desk. Revision is not about the amount of time put in, but how productive that time was. There is no point spending three hours at a desk if most of that time was spent daydreaming or texting. Study is about learning the maximum amount in the minimum amount of time.
Once your task is achieved, test yourself. This way students are not only reinforcing their learning but can leave their study session knowing that it was worthwhile and they now know something more than when they began, and potentially have achieved an extra couple of marks for June.
Daydreaming is a common complaint from students who find it difficult to revise. Minimise the distractions over which you have control such as phones. Ask for help from the adults in the house if necessary. If your mind does begin to wander, remember this is natural, acknowledge it and return to the task. This happens to everyone, but it is important to carry on.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin