Saturday 16 December 2017

Use this opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses

Mocks can be extremely useful in identifying where a student's strengths lie. Photo: Getty Images.
Mocks can be extremely useful in identifying where a student's strengths lie. Photo: Getty Images.

Aoife Walsh

Pupils in many schools around the country are currently or will soon begin their mock exams. These exams are used for a number of purposes both by the school and the students, and can be considered a practice run for June.

Many students worry about the mock or pre-exams as they feel they have not managed to revise the entire course and may feel unprepared. However, mocks can be extremely useful in identifying where a student's strengths lie and where there may be gaps in their knowledge. They should be considered a learning opportunity that will help the student improve for June.

Students may need to think about changing level after they receive their mock result and should seek the advice of their teacher and guidance counsellor if they are considering this.

However, for most students it will be an opportunity to see where they need to focus their study for the remaining months and to learn from their mistakes. Common errors students make in these exams include running out of time as a result of writing too much detail, not writing enough detail, or believing they know a topic better than they do.

If mocks are taking place in the next couple of weeks, students should prepare by practising questions, paying particular attention to the time they must keep to during the exam. Teachers have probably discussed this with students already: if not, students can judge how much time should be spent on a section by how many marks are allocated to it.

It is also important to be familiar with the layout of the paper, particularly which sections must be completed and if there is choice, students should be clear on what is the choice. Perhaps there is an either/or section or perhaps students must complete two of three questions.

Being clear on the layout and timing of the paper can save students from losing marks for silly mistakes and give them more time to show their knowledge.


As February 1, the main deadline for the CAO, fast approaches, there are a number of items that applicants must check off on their 'CAO checklist.'

Applicants must have registered with the CAO by 5.15pm on February 1. The online fee is €40 and anyone intending to apply by post should ensure that the application is posted by today.

Once registered, applicants must also enter the courses they wish to apply for in both the Level 8 and Level 7/6 lists. Particular attention should be paid to restricted entry courses as they cannot be entered during the change of mind process.

Any applicant who intends to apply for the HEAR and DARE scheme must indicate their intention to apply by this date. Applicants do have until March 1 to complete the supplementary information form online.

Applicants should also indicate if they intend to apply for a grant by February 1.

Finally, applicants should check carefully all of the courses which have been entered.

Applicants should ensure that they are fully aware of the content of each course they select and then check that all courses are filled out in genuine order of preference.

Important dates this week:


Registration / Information Day Dunboyne College of Further Education

Open Day Senior College Dun Laoghaire


Open Evening Digital Marketing Institute

NUI Galway Information Evening - Clonmel

Open Evening Portobello Institute


Normal closing date for CAO applications (5.15pm)

GAMSAT Ireland 2014 Registration Closes

HPAT Ulster Test

February 4

Open Day Central College Limerick

Open Day Inchicore CFE

Postgraduate Open Day 2014 University College Cork

February 5

Online facility to amend CAO course choices becomes available.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co. Dublin.

Irish Independent

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