Now is the best time to get into a proper study routine, particularly if you are working towards the 2018 Leaving Certificate examinations. Here are a few tips from our Student Services team to help Leaving Certificate students to get into a good study routine and ensure that they all get the most benefit from their precious study time.
1. Take proper breaks
Sometimes less really is more. If you’ve ever felt like you are zoning out in the middle of a study session, it could be because you are simply studying for too long at a time! Did you know that your brain can typically concentrate for only 25 minutes at a time. So, it is best to study for 30 minute blocks and break these up by a “reward” of a 5 or 10 minute break between each.
2. Implement active learning
Most learning for exams can be divided into either 2 key areas: facts or concepts. Learning the names of the muscles in the human body are facts but learning how the muscles work together is a concept. Understanding concepts is much more important than facts. If you haven’t mastered the overall concept then it follows that you will find it really difficult to learn the facts.
Try to put concepts into your own words. This will add meaning to it and remembering it will be easier. Or work with a study buddy and try and teach them the concept you’ve just learned (and vice versa).
3. Change your study habitat
Lots of students study in their bedroom or in the kitchen or living room at home. The problem with this is that the brain associates these rooms with activities other than studying.
Set up a proper study area. If this has to be your bedroom then move your desk away from the bed. Remember to put your phone on silent (or better still leave it out of the room) to minimise unwanted distractions!
A good method of learning from textbooks is SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.
In each chapter of your textbook survey the various sections to come up with a series of questions, for example “What are red blood cells for?” Then read through the text looking for answers to your questions. (Once you have created questions, your brain will find it way easier to place the answers). Next recite the information by either verbalising it or re-writing it and finally review everything just before your exam.
5. Sleep Hygiene
One of the best and easiest ways to improve the efficiency of your study period is to get more quality sleep. Scientists have proven that our brain forms memory during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Aim for a minimum of 8 hours. It’s also really important to try and get into a healthy sleep pattern. As my Granny used to say: “An hour before midnight is worth two after!”
6. Question Everything
One of the best ways you can see if you are making progress is by testing yourself with past exam questions. You can download these for free from the State Examinations Commission and they will also give you the marking schemes for past papers.
Although you are in a class of one, you are never alone. Our Leaving Certificate students can reach out to their personal subject tutors 24/7 privately by email or they can phone our in-house Student Services team at the College on (01) 639 4660 during office hours. We are here to help!