Going to College: Make the most of revision classes and avoid temptation to stay at home
There is four weeks to go to the start of the Leaving Cert. With the exams drawing ever closer, many students are having their last classes with their subject teachers and are preparing for the important occasion of graduating from second-level school.
Most Leaving Cert students are feeling tired and study-weary at this time, while others may be feeling stressed. It may feel like the summer holidays are about to begin, especially with the change in weather, but students are very aware that their exams are fast approaching.
There are a number of things every Leaving Cert candidate should be doing to help maximise their final weeks. As we approach the end of May, students will find they have more time for independent study, as teachers finish up new material and revision takes over.
There can be a temptation to stop attending school and to work at home. Students may believe that by doing this they will make better use of their time, focusing on the areas they find most challenging, but often this does not go as planned. They can find it very difficult to manage their own time for such a long period.
Additionally, missing revision classes may mean students are missing out. Teachers will often explore topics in different ways, which offer opportunities for new learning. There are also opportunties to discuss exam technique. Students will find that this is a great way to maximise their learning time.
It is also important to have balance. Attending school, keeping a routine and spending time with friends means brains are able to work better when it is time to work.
So avoid the temptation to stay at home indefinitely, or even irregularly. Most schools will release sixth year students before the end of May. There will be plenty of time for independent work at that stage. Students will be able to concentrate on one task or subject for a number of hours at a time - a luxury rarely available during the school week. This time can be used to practice writing essays or completing a sample exam paper.
In order to manage their time and prevent tiredness from taking its toll, it may be helpful to follow the school timetable as a guide to what they should be studying and when. For example, students should get up at the normal time and begin studying at the time their lessons would normally start. If their English class was at 9am for 40 minutes, then they should study English for 40 minutes at 9am. They should take breaks in line with the school timetable and use non-exam subject classes to focus on subjects they find more difficult. This way, by 4pm, students will have completed a solid day's work.If school offers a quiet place for students to study, it may be helpful to take advantage of this, especially for those who are finding it difficult to study at home.
Many students choose to study in the local library, but they should consider carefully how much work they will get done in this environment, especially if there are many other students studying there.
Finally, if teachers have asked students to attend school for extra classes, it is of the utmost importance that they attend. Many students may feel they would get more work done at home but this is often a false economy as students underestimate how much work can be completed by a teacher in a long revision period, and this work will help inform and improve the quality of students' own revision time. Forget about all you have not done and focus on what you can achieve between now and June. Every 20 minutes you spend studying is potentially another few points for CAO and will bring you a little closer to your goal.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin