Final Preparation for Your Leaving Cert Exams (10 ACE Tips)
By Joe McCormack
Students, you have prepared well, put an effective Lifestyle Timetable in place, your diet has improved, and your water consumption is excellent. You are now almost ready for day one. It is advisable to keep the same routine as you had during school time, starting with getting up and finishing with going to bed at the same time. Five to seven hours study per day during this time should be enough, assuming you have all your preparation notes in place.
Guidelines for your final exam preparations:
1. It is important to stay positive and know that the marking schemes for each paper are written in your favour. Any reasonable step in the right direction or partially correct answer will warrant some marks. Many subjects’ marking schemes have been tweaked over the years to allow students more opportunities to pick up marks and demonstrate their knowledge of a subject.
2. Speak to your parents and siblings about your exams, explaining to them the type of environment you need at home for those few weeks. Tell your parents what you need in relation to food, space, support etc. This will help them prepare for what’s ahead, as it may be their first time going through the process.
3. Have a look at any late-night habits you may have. Hours on your phone in bed isn’t great exam preparation, as it will disturb sleep. The body performs better in a routine and so changing it as exams approach doesn’t work well. You had a nice little routine that you settled into during term time, so I recommend sticking with that.
4. Students often ask me about the balance between revising material covered and preparing new content. Firstly, you have taken a lot of information in over the last two or three years, more than you would have imagined. How you present this knowledge in your answer book on the day is important; I would advise you to work on your presentation techniques including layout, structure, neatness, conciseness, and organisation. Personally, I would advise against taking on large swathes of material to revise at this stage, instead it is better to build on your existing knowledge.
5. Use the study buddies (your friends) that you have worked with on different subjects over the year. Even with just weeks to go; write notes for each other, have discussions, meet up for coffee and bounce ideas off each other. Sitting down in a gang of three and brainstorming a topic is a brilliant idea as you will have plenty of topic knowledge to share with each other at this stage of the year. Much research has proven that the best way to retain information yourself is to teach that said material to someone else. I can vouch for this as every time I teach something, I learn something new also.
6. It is useful to know that your teachers will be available for questions, discussions, and advice around exam time. However, during the last few days prior to the exams, your teacher may be at home. I would recommend leaving a message with the secretary of your school if you wish to get in touch with them. As exams approach, our minds are more focused and are more in tune with Information we should be passing on to you to help you.
7. If at this stage you have very little study and preparation done, all is not lost. Starting study with two weeks to go beats the hell out of starting with two days left and when the exams start you will be studying every night anyway. Your plan now should totally focus on the upcoming week and how you can maximise use of it. Construct your Lifestyle Timetable and stick to it as best you can.
8. Being super organised will help you feel so much better. Setting out your notes in topic bundles will put things in perspective and these can be easily picked up as you need them. The fewer notes you have to revise now at this point, the better. Organising your notes and summaries will give you feelings of being in control. “You got this” so…Organise, Summarise and Consolidate.
9. A certain level of anxiety and worry will be normal as exams approach. I would recommend that you have some techniques in place to help with anxiety if it appears. There are plenty of approaches you can try that are explained in more detail in my textbook. Remember the calmer you are, the more focused you will be on your organisation and content. Above all if you are feeling anxious, make sure and talk to your friends or family to see how they can help you work it out.
10. Keep in mind that all past exam papers and marking schemes are available online to download from the Internet. I would highly recommend that you check out the process and thinking behind how each paper is marked. You should investigate things like how to pick up attempt/credit marks, how the weighting of the marks is balanced, and most importantly what is the minimum standard required in questions in order to reach a certain grade. A solutions book where each step is detailed is an excellent companion to your exam papers. Examples of such books can be viewed on www.acesolutionbooks.com.
More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English) classes for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Students (2022), ACE Maths Assessments, and his Award winning ACE Maths Solution Books can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!