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1. For the love of God, STAY CALM!
Everyone will tell you this; your parents, the local priest, all your teachers, and especially your friends. In fact, you may have friends that will brag about how calm they are. Remember, this is a front they’re putting on. Its near impossible to stay perfectly calm before you sit the Leaving – it is kind of a big deal. But don’t let it take over your life. At the end of the day, it’s a long exam over a few weeks in June. Think of it that way, and don’t put the ‘college pressure’ on while your sitting it.
2. Do not, under any circumstances, organise a ‘study group’ with friends.
Harsh but true. Study groups during school hours are okay, and some schools encourage students to study in groups during free periods. But a group with anymore than three people will end in a gossip session about who wore what, or how last weekends rugby game went. It’s even less productive when its a group of close friends. If you do set up a study group, pick two different topics to cover over 90 minutes and take short breaks.
3. Limit your procrastination.
Procrastinating over study will be a problem in your academic life forevermore. And if you can find a way to avoid it, please let the rest of the world know! It’s pointless advising you not to procrastinate, so why not procrastinate in a productive manner? If you want to go shopping for something, make a list of household or personal items you need, and time yourself to see how fast you can get around the shop or department store. Maybe a good use of procrastination time would be to clean out your room or wash the family pet? Again, limit your time. Even organising subject notes is a good use of procrastination!
4. Eat well.
Study fuel is key during Leaving Cert season. Fresh fruits, cereal, flavoured milk and smoothies are all study favourites, and for the most part they can be healthy too. The key to study fuel is twofold; it must be tasty and it should be healthy and energising. Avoid heavy meals and foods that encourage bloating like bread or a greasy bag of chips until after an exam. You don’t want to be sitting in the hall trying to write about Shakespeare and growing a food baby at the same time!
5. Schedule some nap time.
There’s only so much study fuel you can consume during the weeks long study regime before you’ll start to burn out, so don’t forget to set aside some nap time during study time too. The most productive naps are the ones that last between 10 and 20 minutes, so you can stay fresh and alert without getting too sleepy.
6. Make up rhymes to remember tricky formulas or theorems.
This is a great way to remember phrases or formulas for your Science, Maths or English papers. The best thing to do is try and make a rhyme out of a short phrase, or better yet even sing information along to your favourite songs. For example, if you want to remember the stages of mitosis, the phrase ‘I Party Monday And Tuesday’ is handy – Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase. You’ll be rhyming and learning in no time!
7. Buy two of everything.
Stocking up on study supplies is crucial for surviving the Leaving Cert. Past Leaving Certee’s will tell you numerous stories about how they ran out of ink or how their calculator battery died half-way through an exam. So make sure to have a well stocked pencil case, the Noah’s Arc of pencil cases if you will. Two biro’s of each colour, two pencils, two erasers, two rulers, two compasses, and two calculators.
8. Make plenty of flash cards.
Well-written flashcards are the saviour of any crammer in the run up to an exam. Most people will use them to remember key points in all subjects, but a hidden trick is to devote some cards to themes you know will come up, and themes you can’t always remember correctly. They will come in handy for younger siblings studying after you too, which earn you major brownie points with the parents.
9. Pack your bag the night before.
This advice from the mouth of Irish Mammy’s all across the country, but to give them their due, its true. There’s nothing worse than the mad rush the morning of a maths exam when you’re trying to find your pencil case or a calculator. They were both on the table the night before and have now vanished – are there Borrower’s living in the house?!
10. Be kind to yourself
Goes without saying really, doesn’t it? You’re doing your best, be proud of it!
All this advice applies to studying when you’re in third level too!!