With the countdown on until the junior cert, my daughter is spending a lot of her time studying. To be fair, she has been diligent about hitting the books all year. With the final run-up to the exam having just kicked off, it’s the last opportunity to maximise her time to study ‘wisely’. With pre-mock and mock exams out of the way she has a good idea of her weak areas. In order to get the points in leaving cert for the college course she wants to do she needs to stay in honours for as many subjects as she can, so that’s her goal – getting a good honours grade to set herself up for success for leaving cert.
Here’s our 5 steps to help get the most out of study time.
A comfortable area to study:
She has a desk in her room with plenty of space and lighting. We spent an afternoon de-cluttering it so she has no distractions. Phone charger, books etc. all moved to her bedside locker. Sitting at a desk is better for posture than hunched over on a bed.
Phone on silent:
Just answering one text/snap can take a couple of seconds but teens get snaps every other minute so the total amount of time spent on phones can really eat into study time, never mind the time it takes to refocus after a distraction.
- Study plan:List out subjects and topics based on exam questions and separate the weak areas from the strong areas. Strong areas may just need some revision while the weaker areas may need some more work. Decide what flow works best for you – hardest subject first or easiest. My daughter loves flash cards and post-its. They seem to work for her. Her room is ‘decorated’ in lurid pink and fluorescent green post-its. She tries to condense topics into key words so it’s easier to recall in an exam. Everyone is different so try to find what technique works best for you.
build a weekly timetable for the study session length of time you choose. We’re going for 2 hours during the week and 3 over the weekend. We’re going to have the same schedule each week for consistency. It’s up to you how many subjects you want to include in each study session. We are aiming for an hour per subject.
Plenty of breaks:
Balance the study. After each subject or whenever you choose get up and stretch your legs. It’s good to get away from the books for a while. It’s not good for your back or neck muscles if you’re hunched over for long periods. Make sure to have plenty of water with you as studying can be thirsty work. After study get outside for a walk or do an activity. It’s good to clear your head. It’s never too young to start practicing mindfulness. The benefits are worthwhile.
After school study:
There are many support mechanisms out there but you may have to look for them. Most schools offer an after-school study program. My daughter avails of the one at her school. Its supervised for 2 hours after school Mon- Thur. Its full of like-minded individuals and there are no interruptions from siblings or nagging parents and best of all there are no battles to start the study session so a win win for parents and students.
I’ve noticed an increasing trend in parents turning to grinds earlier in the academic life of their child. I talked last week to a parent of a fifth-class student getting grinds in maths. I haven’t gone down the grinds route yet but sometimes I wonder if perhaps I should. Grinds can be done in two ways – one to one private tuition, usually a school teacher or older student; or through grind schools – a quick google search will throw up the nearest one to you.
This is the option I choose. It’s a mix of video tuition, reading material and quizzes online. You can choose a plan that best suits you and start immediately. They talk through past exam papers and give guidance on how best to answer to maximise your scoring. We’ve only just purchased it but it seems very good so far. You can choose a topic yourself and study in your own time wherever is most comfortable for you. Its available on mobile devices so you can even study on the go.
This is another great online option developed by a team of ‘A’ students as part of their transition year project. We used this last year and got a lot out of it. We choose examsupport this year because of the video content. Every student studies differently and rather than lots of reading my daughter prefers a mix of reading and visual content.
Eircom study hub is the same as exam support except eir customers get it for free.
These are just some of the resources out there. I’m sure there are many more but these are the ones I’m familiar with. Junior cert is the first major exam in our children’s lives and that makes it scary and we can end up putting ourselves and our children under lots of pressure but there are so many college options out there and so many routes to the ideal career that the Junior cert is not a life limiting exam. Having a happy, confident, healthy child is worth so much more.