The Leaving Certificate exams will begin four weeks from today and, for the final month, students should come up with an updated study plan.
Some students may now be regretting not getting into a good study routine earlier. If this is the case, it is time to let go of these regrets. It is impossible to change the past, so focus on what is possible to achieve in the next four weeks, and a lot can be achieved.
Get started. Accept that you may not cover the whole course between now and the exams. However, every 20 minutes spent revising could mean earning an extra couple of percentages on the day, so every 20 minutes spent revising is worthwhile.
Here are some guidelines:
1) Begin a good routine. As much as possible study in the same location every day. It is better that this is somewhere at home rather than in a library or school to which you may not always have access, but this is not always possible in busy households. Keep this space tidy and clutter free. Make it an appealing space to return to, as, when we are weary of revising, we all naturally look for reasons not to begin.
2) Know what you want to achieve. Keep lists of topics or items that you need to cover, in order of priority. It can be hugely motivating to tick off each item and it is easy to see what is being achieved as the list gets shorter and shorter.
3) At the end of each study session decide what will be studied during the next session. This will save time and allow students to make the most their study time. It will also help students get started when motivation is low.
4) Judge your revision on what you want to achieve, 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 really no point spending three hours at a desk if most of that time was spent daydreaming or texting. Study is about getting the maximum amount learned in the minimum amount of time. Before you begin, set down your task: for example: 'I want to learn three quotes in the next 20 minutes' not 'I will study English for 20 mins.'
5) Test yourself. Once your task is achieved, test yourself. This way you are not only reinforcing the learning but can leave the study session knowing that it was worthwhile, you now know something more than when you began and potentially have achieved an extra couple of marks.
6) Daydreaming is a common complaint from students who find it difficult to revise. However, it is important to push through this distraction and not give up and say 'I can't do it'. Minimise the distractions you have control over such as phones, alerts and internet. If your mind does begin to wander, acknowledge it and return to the task without chastising yourself. Students may find it helpful to put a little tick on a 'post it' each time it happens. Remember it happens to everyone, but it is important to carry on.
*Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
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