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Exam candidates must remember it’s all about balance over the next month

Posted by Francis O' Toole on May 14, 2015

Keep balance in mind in the run up to the Leaving Cert.
Keep balance in mind in the run up to the Leaving Cert.

Last week, this column focused on study tips for Leaving Certificate students who are feeling under-prepared for their exams. However, many students have been working diligently all year and now feel well prepared. These students may be ready to meet the challenge of the Leaving Cert, but there are still things they can do to maximise their results.

Maintain balance: one of the most important things to remember over the next month is to keep balance. Having put in hard work up until now, know it will pay off. The Leaving Cert can be an exhausting experience, especially if you have a full load of exams over the first few days. Therefore, you need to be well rested and ready to meet this challenge.

Study and revision: these are important but so too are exercise, sleep, food and meeting friends. These are also the first things we neglect when feeling stressed. Make sure time is made to include all these things but that not too much time is invested in any one. It is difficult to achieve balance, but very much worth the effort.

Keep a routine: this may be difficult as school draws to an end, but it is extremely important. Keep doing school work every day even when classes finish. In one way this is a lovely time as awards ceremonies, graduation and other celebratory events take place, but try to remain focused and work around these.

Consider shortfalls: spend a little time considering the gaps in your knowledge and weak points in exam technique. Take on the advice of teachers and consider mock results. Have all the problems that came up during the year been addressed? Do you read questions carefully or sometimes misread them? Did you have timing problems in the past? Do you need more detail, longer answers or more specific definitions? Prioritise weaker areas.

Practice Practice Practice: it is important to keep learning and reviewing content, but equally important to focus on exam technique and to test yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to complete as many practice questions as possible. Always do these under exam conditions e.g. stick to the time allowed for each section in the exam and see what can be achieved in this time. All past exam papers and marking schemes are available on examinations.ie.

Give more time to those exams that begin earlier: some candidates may have long gaps between exams. Know that this time can be used to focus on exams that are timetabled for later in the month. While students should not neglect any subject it may be wise to prioritise those that come first. However, plan this well to ensure all subjects get the necessary amount of time over all.

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

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