COLUMN: How to ACE your Christmas Exams
First, Second and Fifth years; you will be commencing your Christmas exams soon. In the case of Second and Fifth years, it is another step towards your State exams next year and of course you want to put on a good show for work done over the last four months. Consequently, your preparation needs to start now for these exams. If you have very little revision done up to now, it’s not too late to salvage a decent percentage as you head into the second term. It is never too late to start revising. Here are ‘Six of the best’ tips to ready yourself for the upcoming challenge:
You need to put some kind of a plan in place for the next few weeks and I believe the ‘Lifestyle Study Timetable’ fits that bill. In summary, draw out a weekly timetable containing thirty minute study blocks each tagged with a five minute break after each one. Each block will contain a topic from one of your subjects. Prior to entering topics required to be revised; enter your school times and all leisure activities or events you will be involved in that week. Keep some catch-up blocks free each weekend in case plans change. It is better to have a plan that may need tweaking than no plan at all.
I would advise you, at this point, to summarise the main topics you have studied since September. You need to be realistic what you can get covered in a couple of weeks, while still having to attend school every day. Your teacher should be able to give you a broad outline of the main topics for consideration for this exam. After Christmas, you can take on the full course with a new timetable in preparation for the summer exams.
Start writing out summaries in your own words, whether this is from notes your teacher has given you or your text book. I am a firm believer in having your own set of notes that you can read and understand easily. As with any exam, you do not want to be trawling through pages of notes as deadline day looms. Bullet points, postits, pocket notebooks and flash cards are great companions for these summaries. Put good habits in place now.
It is important not to neglect the subjects that aren’t your favourite or that you may not be doing so well in. The first piece of homework you tackle every evening should be from these subjects and they should also get more time (blocks) on your ‘Lifestyle Study Timetable’. You are better off in the long run to have the majority of your scores around the middle as opposed to having very high and very low percentages across a mix of subjects. Focus on your weaknesses, as it is likely your talents in the other subjects will balance grades out. This also applies within subjects. Getting very low scores in certain subjects can really drain the confidence and leave you wondering “Where do I go from here”?
List out the set of topics (subject by subject) you plan to cover for these exams onto an A3/A4 sheet. Put an ‘S’ beside a given topic when summarised and tick it off when you feel confident you could answer a potential exam question on it. Having these lists on your wall will provide an added incentive to get more done. Ticking off each list and watching the workload shrink will help you feel so much better about how your revision is progressing.
Eating well is important as your body is more inclined to break down with colds, flu’s and bugs at this time of year. It will be really difficult to do any constructive preparation if you develop that niggling cold or sore throat. In my opinion the best foods to enhance your system at this time of year are porridge, lemon/orange juice, hot soups, curries, stews, hot roast dinners, mugs of hot drinks and of course loads of water, to name but a few. Sugary cereals or Energy/Fizzy drinks will never improve your health or help illness resistance. Get your parents on board here making sure they have stocked up the nutritional and warm homely winter foods to get you through to the last exam.
Finally, put a good solid effort into your revision over the next few weeks and you can relax then and enjoy Christmas with your family and friends. Your endeavours will be worth it when you see your grades being posted out in January. Take pride in your work at school, just as your parents take so much pride in everything you do.
Wishing you a happy and a holy Christmas from all at ACE Solution Books. Talk in 2019, Joe!
More details about how to purchase ‘How to ACE the Leaving Certificate’ and Joe’s ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books are on his website www.acesolutionbooks.com